Garnets are a group of silicate minerals that have been used since the Bronze Age as gemstones and abrasives.
All species of garnets possess similar physical properties and crystal forms but differ in chemical composition. The different species are pyrope, almandine, spessartine, grossular (varieties of which are hessonite or cinnamon-stone and tsavorite), uvarovite and andradite.
The word garnet comes from the 14th-century Middle English word garnet, meaning 'dark red'. According to another legend, the word garnet is even derived from the Latin word Garanatus, meaning “seed-like.”
Garnet is derived from a variety of geographic locations worldwide, including regions of the United States, the Czech Republic, Greece, Russia, Tanzania, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, and India. Each geographic region offers different climatic qualities, and thus a variety of different minerals. This mineral composition ultimately determines the color of the garnet stone produced by each region. Though garnet naturally occurs in a range of colors spanning ochre to emerald, the burgundy-red stones are the most easily recognizable shade of the gemstone and are most popular in garnet jewelry. Garnet species are found in many colors including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, brown, black, and colorless, with reddish shades most common.
In Greek mythology, the eternal union between Persephone and Hades was said to be ignited Garnet species' light transmission properties can range from the gemstone-quality transparent specimens to the opaque varieties used for industrial purposes as abrasives. The mineral's luster is categorized as vitreous (glass-like) or resinous (amber-like).
By the gift of a pomegranate, a seed-filled fruit bearing a deep burgundy color. The story of Persephone and Hades has fostered an association between the fruit’s crimson seeds and the concept of eternal love. Though the garnet stone is found in a variety of cool- and warm-toned hues, its most iconic shade is deep red.
Garnet has been favored by royalty across many cultures, especially during the Middle Ages. In Europe, the garnet stone was considered a symbol of trust and affection and became a popular gift to exchange between friends in the 13th and 14th centuries.
Garnet was widely used in characteristically somber Victorian-era jewelry. Though jewelry styles of the time were understated, gemstones like garnet and amethyst were often used to incorporate color into designs laden with darker stones like jet and onyx. Conversely, in Art Deco and vintage jewelry of the mid-20th century, bright carmine stones were set among other vibrant gemstones in cocktail jewelry. Due to its popularity from the 18th to the 20th century, garnet is commonly found in estate jewelry today.