January Birthstone: Garnet
Garnet is a group of many minerals that include almandine, spessartine, pyrope, grossular, and andradite. While the colors of pyrope and almandine range from purple to red, spessartine is mostly found in bright yellows and oranges. Andradite is usually found in yellow to green. Grossular is known for its wide variety of shades that ranges from colorless to vibrant red and green.
Garnets in history
Since the Bronze Age, garnets have been used as gemstones as well as abrasives. The pharaohs of ancient Egypt wore necklaces encrusted with red garnets. Pluto got a Roman engraver to engrave his portrait on a garnet. Even during the Middle ages, the nobility had a penchant for wearing jewelry with red garnets.
Where are garnets found?
There are many regions and countries around the world where garnet can be found, but the African continent is the major supplier. Countries like Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar, supply some of the most beautiful and valuable garnets. The Little Three mining area in Southern California was also a major producer of garnets for many years. Apart from Africa, some other places where garnets are mined are Myanmar, Iran, Afghanistan, and India, among others.
Care and cleaning of garnets
On the Mohs scale of hardness, garnets range between 6.5 and 7.5, this means that they are highly susceptible to damage, even more than rubies and diamonds. While you should ideally refrain from using garnet jewelry for daily wear, they still look ethereal when set in earrings, rings, pendants, and brooches. Clean them using a soft brush with a solution of warm water and a mild soap. Do not subject them to steam cleaning.
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