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13 Things You Need to Know About Garnet Jewelry

Garnet ring guide

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Garnet has become one of the most popular alternatives to rubies. It’s red hue and smooth texture bears a great resemblance to higher priced rubies but can be purchased at a much lower cost. Just like rubies, garnets are also a symbol of passion, power, creativity, and sensuality. Garnets are also the birthstone for January.

Although Garnets are chiefly renowned for their red hue, they also come in a wide range of other colors and shades. These gemstones are often called one of the most complicated and diverse gems in the world, due to the various hues they can produce.

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What are garnets?

Red garnet stone

Red garnet by Sapphire Land. See it here.

Garnets are a group of rock-forming minerals that produce gemstones in diverse shades. They consist of several species, but they all share a common crystal structure and chemical composition. Garnets are found all over the world in metamorphicigneous, and sedimentary rocks

Garnets get their name from the word Granatum, which is Latin for pomegranate. This is a reference to garnet’s popular red hue, similar to that of pomegranate seeds. Garnets are produced all over the world, but majority of the gemstones come from USA, Brazil, Sri Lanka and India.

What is the most valuable color for garnet gemstones?

Garnets get their color from various impurities and minerals that are present within them. Their color can change depending on the type of impurities present, including iron, vanadium, or manganese.

The Garnet family comes in a prism of colors, with red being the most common and recognized type. But they can also come in shades of yellow, orange, purple, pink, brown and black.

Although all hues are unique and desirable, the green Garnet gemstones known as tsavorite are among the rarest variety and also the most valuable. These fetch the highest prices.

There is also a very high demand for color-changing Garnets. These gemstones react differently based on the intensity of light and can produce a range of colors within the same gemstone.

Can garnets be judged on their clarity?

Garnets that typically eye-clean and have very good clarity. These stones with no visible impurities are highly sought after.  Garnets with excellent transparency and clarity are typically faceted for a greater reflection of light, and richer display of color. 

The only type of Garnet that isn’t judged for its clarity is the Star Garnet, which displays asterism caused by inclusions of rutile. This is an unusual variety of garnet and are quite popular.

What type of cut is best for garnet?

Garnet gemstones that come directly out of the mine are called rough stones, which then have to be cut, shaped, and faceted to bring out the best appearance of the stone.  The cut is important in order to display the color and brilliance of each gem, which can be greatly enhanced by its angles and shape. Garnets are typically cut into all popular gemstone shapes, such as oval, princess, cushion and marquise. Some unique garnet cuts include:

  • Star Cut –The star cut looks best for smaller Garnet gemstones that are below three millimeters. In this cut, the smaller stones are brought together and harmonized for a dazzling look.
  • Diamond Cut –This refers to the typical round diamond cut. The diamond cut works best for the highest quality Garnet gemstones.
  • Checkerboard Cut –The checkerboard cut is a unique cut that is predominantly used for bigger Garnet stones. This design has various levels of clarity and looks best in round or oval shapes.
  • Cabachon – The cabachon cut works well with bright Garnet stones that have a good clarity. Cabochons are smooth spheres that enhance the luster and color of the stone.

How expensive are garnets?

The price and value of a Garnet depends on its color, size, clarity, and cut. Common red Garnet stones can be purchased for below $100, with some lower quality garnets priced as low as $10 per carat. On the other hand, rare, high-quality garnets can go up as high as $1000-$5000 per carat. This disparity in price is because of the wide range of Garnet varieties.  

Is garnet a good choice for engagement rings?

Garnet ring

Garnet ring by Ferkos Fine Jewelry. See it here.

Garnet has a hardness of 6.5 – 7.5 on the Mohs scale, which is much softer than most popular engagement ring gemstones like diamonds or sapphires. However, with reasonable care, garnet rings can be worn every day. As a durable and cost-effective gemstone, it’s a great alternative to ruby engagement rings. Down the track, replacing a Garnet stone on your ring may be an option if the stone has become scratched or damaged.

Many couples like to buy Garnet engagement rings due to the sheer diversity of colors and options available. The highly popular red Garnet stones are valued for their symbolic significance, as they represent passion, love, fertility, success and sensuality.

How can garnet engagement rings be styled?

Garnet engagement rings look stunning when they are surrounded by lighter shades. For instance, a red central stone can be paired with diamonds or white topaz on the sides, to bring out a contrast, and increase the intensity of the Garnet. In terms of best metals, this depends on the shade of Garnet you opt for. If you’re going for a red Garnet, yellow gold tends to give the most classic and stylish look as seen in this ring, while rose gold adds a unique, vintage touch like this.

White metals, like silver, platinum and white gold, adds a strong contrast, as the warmth of the red garnet clashes with the cool tones of the metal. The result is a bold, modern looking design, like this ring.

What are the types of garnet gemstones?

There are a wide range of Garnet gemstones that you can choose from, but the almandine, rhodolite or tsavorite, are most desired for engagement rings. To know more about each type of Garnet gemstone, let’s take a look at the list below.

  • Almandine: Almandine is the most popular and well-known variety of Garnet gemstones. Also known as precious Garnet, this gemstone has deep and rich red to purple color.
  • Demantoid: Demantoid comes in shades of green and has a brilliant light that sometimes exceeds the shine of diamonds. It can transform white light into a prism of rainbow colors.
  • Grossular: The grossular Garnet, also known as hessonite, comes in several shades of green. This light-colored gemstone is a great option for vibrant jewelry.
  • Mali Garnet: The Mali Garnet is a cross between the grossular and the almandine varieties. These gemstones can be yellow, brown, green-yellow, or green brown.
  • Pyrope: Pyrope Garnets come in a wide range of red shades. Some are a deep blood red, while others are black red. There are also some Pyrope gemstones that can change their color.
  • Rhodolite: A Rhodolite Garnet is a variety of Pyrope, and it appears in hues of violet-red. It’s admired and cherished for its unique color.
  • Spessartine: This type of Garnet is usually found in shades of orange brown. It’s quite rare and is hardly used in ornaments or jewelry. 
  • Tsavorite: Tsavorite is a very rare and valuable type of Garnet that appears in a specific shade of green. This stunning and beautiful gemstone is suitable for all kinds of jewelry.
  • Uvarovite: Uvarovite is a very rare gemstone that has a rich and dark green hue. Its crystals are usually too small to be faceted or cut.

Do Garnets have any symbolic meanings?

As with most gemstones that have been used for thousands of years, Garnets have also acquired many symbolic meanings. Garnets symbolize blood, inner fire and life force. These associations make Garnet an excellent gemstone for gifts between lovers. However, the symbolism also extends to non-romantic friendships and is the perfect gemstone representation of friendship.

In terms of color, red Garnets are believed to represent love, sensuality, passion, eternity, and inner life. They are usually exchanged between lovers as an emblem of their long-lasting commitment. Green Garnets are a symbol of wealth and prosperity. They are said to enhance the respect of the wearer and instigate a greater creative and emotional spirit. 

Is garnet a birthstone?

Garnet is the birthstone of January, and it symbolizes good luck, love, health, prosperity and friendship. January babies can wear this gemstone to bring them greater success.

What is the Difference between a garnet and a ruby?

Garnets aren’t as vivid or dynamic as rubies, which have a deeper and rich red hue. Some rubies can be tinged with purple or blue, whereas Garnet’s red leans towards yellow and orange secondary hues.

Garnets are also more affordable than rubies, which fall under the category of precious gemstones. The deep and brilliant red of rubies makes them more expensive and valuable. Another difference is that most rubies are heat treated whereas Garnets aren’t.

What happens if a garnet gemstone goes through heat treatment?

Gemstones are generally heat treated to enhance their clarity and color. However, this doesn’t tend to work with garnets. Garnet gemstones can’t withstand intense heat, and if they are exposed to this, they may lose their luster and get damaged. Only demantoids are sometimes heat treated, but in general, garnets on the market are natural.

How do you care for garnet gemstones?

Garnets gemstones are fairly tough and durable, but for them to last for a long time, they must be thoroughly cleaned and properly maintained.

Garnets should ideally be cleaned with warm soapy water and a soft cloth. You can opt to clean garnet jewelry in ultrasonic cleaners but ensure that the gemstones don’t have any fractures. However, don’t use steam cleaning with garnet gemstones as the heat can damage the stones.

What to avoid:

  • Avoid exposure to excessive rough use or wear and tear.
  • Garnet jewelry should be removed if your fingers are exposed to harsh chemicals.  
  • Don’t store garnets with other gemstones, as this can create friction and cause them to scratch.
  • Avoid steam cleaners or exposure to intense heat.
  • Remove garnet jewelry when swimming in chlorinated pools.
  • Always put on garnet jewelry last, after applying lotions, makeup, perfume and hairspray.

Wrapping Up

Garnets are an excellent alternative to rubies, but they’re also a stunning gemstone in their own right. With a wide array of varieties to choose from, garnets are versatile and stylish gemstones. They’re also affordable and make for perfect gifts for January babies.