The January birthstone garnet has been deemed precious for thousands of years; it was used in early Egyptian, Greek and Roman jewelry designs. Garnets come in many colors, including green, yellow and orange, but it is wine-red garnet that has always held the most allure. Vast discoveries of dark Bohemian red garnet in Central Europe around 1500 led to intensive mining and manufacturing, and red garnets reached their height of popularity in the late 1800s. Today, ornate Victorian garnet jewelry is considered highly collectible. In fact, red garnet jewelry — old and new — is more sought after than ever, especially since the Pantone Color Institute announced its 2015 Color of the Year – Marsala.
Dreaming of Garnets
According to statesymbolsusa.org, the red garnet was designated the State gem of New York in 1969. Barton Mines in New York’s Adirondack Mountains is the world’s largest garnet mine, unearthing mostly industrial-grade garnet used for polishing glass and metal. However, the website reports that gemstone-quality garnet is still found occasionally in upstate N.Y. — and I, for one, am glad to hear it.
As a child, I spent every summer on Blue Mountain Lake in the Adirondack Park, and I often found sparkling red garnets on the gravel path that led from our camp to the water. It is one of my earliest and most enduring “jewelry memories,” although my shoebox-full of the precious wine-red nuggets has long since vanished. – S.M.
OBSESSED BY GARNETS?
HERE’S A HAND-SELECTED LIST OF RECENT ARTICLES ABOUT THIS GORGEOUS GEMSTONE: