Garnet is a very diverse stone, having a large range of colors. Garnet is a group of several minerals, five of which – pyrope, almandine, spessartine, grossular and andradite – are important as gems.
The name “garnet” originates from the medieval Latin granatus, meaning “pomegranate,” in reference to the similarity of the red color.
Garnets have been used since the Bronze Age as gemstones. Necklaces with red garnets have been found in tombs of pharaohs from ancient Egypt. Signet rings in ancient Rome featured garnet intaglios (carvings) that were used to stamp the wax for important documents.
According to Indian astrology, garnet helps eliminate negative feelings like depression and guilt, and instill greater self-confidence and peace of mind. In ancient and medieval times, garnet was thought to be a remedy for inflammatory diseases.
Garnet color varies on the species of mineral being described:
- Pyrope and almandine range from purple to red.
- Spessartine is found in shades of orange and yellow.
- Andradite is mostly yellow to green.
- Grossular may have the widest range, from colorless through yellow to reddish orange and orangey red, as well as a strong vibrant green called tsavorite.
Garnet ranges from 6.5-7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness. This means it’s a bit softer than diamond, sapphires, and rubies, so it can be scratched by them if they rub against each other. Because of this, they may be better suited as earrings or pendants instead of rings. If you do wear garnet rings, be sure to take them off before doing anything that could cause unusual wear on the stone, such as gardening or working out with weights.
Garnets are usually not treated, so the ultrasonic cleaner is relatively safe to use. But if in doubt, warm soapy water is the safest way to clean them.