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, pharaohs of ancient Egypt and Signet rings in ancient Rome. The clergy and nobility of the Middle Ages had a preference for red garnets.
Garnet is actually a group of several minerals. Five of these – pyrope(a deep red variety of garnet.), almandine(a kind of garnet with a violet tint.), spessartine(a form of garnet containing manganese and aluminum, occurring as orange-red to dark brown crystals.), grossular(a mineral of the garnet group, consisting essentially of calcium aluminum silicate.) and andradite (a mineral of the garnet group, containing calcium and iron. It occurs as yellow, green, brown, or black crystals, sometimes of gem quality.)– are important as gems.
Garnets are commonly red but also come in an amazing range of beautiful colors, including orange, yellow, purple and vibrant green. There are even garnets that change color from blue to purple just pends on the lighting. Some believe the garnet birthstone has power to bring the wearer good health, wealth and happiness.
According to Indian astrology, garnet helps eliminate negative feelings (depression, guilt) and instill greater self-confidence and mental clarity to promote creative thinking and peace of mind.
Garnets come from many different regions and countries. Bohemia was the primary source of the red pyrope garnets which was popular during Victorian times. In 19th century Russia, the Russian royal family prized green demantoid garnets from the Ural Mountains. As did the great jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé (1846–1920). Today, the African continent supplies much of the world’s garnet. Namibia is now producing demantoids,(a lustrous green variety of andradite garnet) and most of the bright green tsavorites in the market come from Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar. Namibia and Tanzania are also key sources of the rich orange-to-yellow spessartine garnets. For many years, Southern California’s Little Three mining area was known for producing this spellbinding gem, The birthstone for January is also found in Myanmar, Brazil, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, among other countries.