January’s birthstone is the bold and beautiful garnet, known to bring good luck to those who receive it as a gift. The deep red transparent stones we normally associate with gemstone quality garnets are called Almandine, but garnet comes in many different colors including green, known as Demantoid and Tsavorite; orangy red or Hessonite; and pinkish red, or Rhodolite, the most valuable of the red garnets. The next time you see these gemstone names come up at auction or on vintage jewelry websites — or view examples at your local fine jeweler — know that you are dealing with the colorful and versatile garnet family. And Happy Birthday to all you garnet girls (and guys) who are celebrating this month!
The name “garnet” comes from the Latin “granatum,” meaning seed, which some say refers to the garnet’s similarity to the seeds of the pomegranate. The 14th century Middle English word “gernet” means “dark red.” Garnets were the most widely used gemstones in Europe during the Bronze Age and the early Middle Ages. Many important artifacts including jewelry, ornaments, and weapons crafted with garnet inlay have been found in ancient burial sites and in Anglo-Saxon treasure troves.
Garnets have been popular in jewelry design throughout the ages, including the Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco eras. The red garnet was said to be one of Queen Victoria’s favorite gemstones and it figured in the garnet-eyed serpent engagement ring given to her by
Prince Albert. The Victorians thought the garnet
symbolized passion and believed it could cure
depression — two more good reasons to collect
garnet jewelry today!
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is a great place to learn more about the colorful and complex world of garnets. Don’t miss their informative video on the names for various garnet colors (and don’t worry, there won’t be a quiz later). Whether you collect “traditional” red garnets or branch out into the more exotic and expensive hues, you’ll be in very good company. Many of today’s top jewelry designers are choosing Demantoid, Tsavorite and Rhodolite – or combinations of all three – for their most dramatic and dynamic pieces.
When it comes to garnets, don’t stop at red, let yourself go!
How can you best maintain the beauty and brilliance of your garnets? Clean them regularly with Connoisseurs Precious Jewelry Cleaner. For this and many more jewelry cleaning tips and How-To’s, visit Connoissuers.com