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The ABCs Of GARNET

Garnet Garnet, January's birthstone, is one of the most exciting gems on the market. This hard, durable and often very brilliant gem offers great versatility because of its variety. Believed to represent faith, loyalty, truth and devotion, garnet is known as the stone of commitment. Most people think of garnet as a single type of gem that is dark red in color. Actually, garnet is a gem family that spans a range of red, green, yellow, orange, purple and brown shades. A majority of the garnet varieties on the market can be classified as one or a mixture of five types:

 

Almandine garnet, the most common type, is dark red to brownish-red. Pyrope garnet, also prevalent on the market, is usually blood red; finer gems may resemble ruby. Andradite garnet is found in yellow, green, or brown. Chromium-rich emerald-green andradite, found in Russia in limited supply, is known as demantoid garnet. Grossular garnet, the most colorful of the garnet family, comes in various shades of yellow, orange, green and brown. Green grossular garnet, found in limited supply in Tanzania and Kenya, is known as tsavorite garnet. Spessartine garnet is usually found in reddish-brown to yellow orange. A popular spessartine is mandarin garnet from Namibia.

Rhodolite garnet, a mix of pyrope and almandine, is found in light to dark pink to purplish red, even grape. Malaya--a rare garnet blend of pyrope and spessartine that is found only in Tanzania--comes in extraordinary bright light orange shades. There is also color change garnet that reveals strong purplish red in incandescent light to bluish green in fluorescent light. And star garnet--found in the United States in a reddish purple variety--displays a faint four-rayed star, similar to a six-rayed star ruby.

Its name comes from the Latin "Granatus," which means "seed-like." Many garnet crystals have the shape and color of pomegranate seeds. On the Mohs scale of hardness, garnet ranks 6.5-7.5 -- hard but somewhat brittle, so avoid impact which could nick or crack the stone. Faceted garnets can display brilliant, rich, lustrous colors that look good in sunlight and artificial light.

In addition to an array of colors, garnet is found in a various sizes. In almandine and pyrope large stones of 40-50 carats are available, but gems exceeding 20 carats are usually not cut due to dark color saturation. In grossular and spessartine garnet stones over 10 carats are rare. In color change, tsavorite and demantoid garnets, gems over 3 carats are scarce.

 

Natural gem-quality garnet varieties can be found in many parts of the world, including: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Madagascar, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Myanmar (Burma), Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Bohemia, Russia, Pakistan, India, Canada, Mexico and the United States (Arizona, Virginia and California).

To clean garnet, use warm soapy water and a soft brush. An ultrasonic cleaner is safe for most garnets, except andradite (demantoid). Do not steam clean garnet. It is important to buy gemstones from a reputable retailer who will provide, in writing, all pertinent information regarding the gems including enhancements and special care notes.

 

 

 

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