A Garnet, the birthstone for January, is the beautiful deep-red stone often found in antique jewellery that is sometimes mistaken for a ruby. This description is true but only to to a point because the reality is that the Garnet is not a single stone but rather a family or group of many different gems of similar composition with the same hardness of 7-7.5 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness.
And Garnets are not only red but come in a rich colour spectrum – excepting only blue – of various greens, yellows, earth tones, and a spectacular fiery orange. Nowadays too, thanks to new discoveries in S. Africa that famous, sparkling red is now enhanced with various shades or hues of red. As well, all members of the Garnet family have certain characteristics in common: that amazing light-dependant colour-change feature, an extraordinary brilliance or luminosity even greater than that of the diamond because of their high refractive index, and a remarkable high dispersion ability that splits the light as it passes through the facets breaking it down into all colours of the rainbow.
As in all families, both human and non-human, the members of the Garnet family of gems have different names that include Almandine, Andradite, Demantoid, Grossularite, Tsavorite, Spessartite or Mandarin Garnets and Green Garnets to name only a few. And, as in many families, some members are preferred for one reason or another and so it is here with the main focus on my favourites: Spessartite or Mandarin Garnets; Tsavorite, and my ultimate favourite, the Demantoid or Green Garnet.
The Spessartite Garnet, sometimes referred to as the Mandarin Garnet, ranges in colours of warm yellow to a brilliant orange to a reddish-orange, which explains why it is often mistaken for a Fire Opal or a Topaz. The first time I saw this stone, I was immediately smitten by its stunning orange colour but describing it in mere words is an impossibility. You have to see it for yourself preferably in daylight. And, if you’re an extrovert, this is the gemstone for you because it evokes energy and a take-charge attitude. Its magnificent colour is also important in Asian art where the gods were frequently portrayed in orange clothing.
The Tsavorite is known as a young gem because it was only discovered in 1967 first in Tanzania and later in Kenya. Its colour is green, a fresh, vivid, radiant green colour sparkling with the same luminosity that all Garnets possess. Also, the Tsavorite never needs treatment; it is what it is: a pure unadulterated gift from Nature and a rival, at a much lower cost, for an emerald.
The Demantoid or Green Garnet is the star in the Garnet family and therefore the most expensive whatever the shade of green though the emerald green is the most precious of all. First discovered in Russia’s Ural Mountains in 1868 the Demantoid quickly became a much desired gemstone and a favourite with Russia’s star jeweller, Carl Faberge who preferred them to all other gemstones because of that fabulous luminosity. The colours of the Tsavorite and the Demantoid overlap but they are from different Garnet groups: the Tsavorite being in the green grossular group and the Demantoid in the andradite group and a softer stone but with the same incredible luminosity, which is why you need to speak to Joe at LL Private Jewellers who can tell you which is which and better explain the differences.
With their great luminosity that often rivals or exceeds that of a diamond, it is no wonder that all members of the Garnet family, whatever colour, are highly prized and sought after but you need to see them up close and personal in daylight so I suggest you go to LL Private Jewellers to fully appreciate the beauty of these untreated jewels from nature.
Please for more information about Garnets contact LL Private Jewellers at 604-683-3918.