Garnet, the traditional birthstone of January, is extremely popular and associated with purity, faithfulness, truth and friendship. Because of the gemstone’s resemblance to the pomegranate fruit, its name is derived from the word “granatum” meaning seed. It is believed that garnets heal emotional problems and alleviate bad dreams. It is also believed to be the lucky stone for success, love and business relationships. It boosts the self-confidence of the wearer and helps get rid of old behavior patterns.
If you are looking to buy this stone, here is a handy guide to help you along the way:
- Types: Garnets are available in a variety of kinds such as Mandarine, Mali, Demantoid and Tsavorite. While the Tsavorite is extremely popular and continues to command a high price, it is not found in large sizes. Gemstones above 2 carat are not only rare but also cost a few thousand dollars. Mandarine is another garnet that expensive and rare, with a fantastic bright orange colour.
- Cut: Garnets come in an array of shapes. Carefully evaluate the cut of the stone. Usually garnets are displayed in standard gem cuts such as emerald cut, princess and round cut, as opposed to more brilliant cuts such as pear cut or cushion cut. The reason why it is unavailable in a brilliant cut is that it is a dense stone and would not display well.
- Size: Garnets can be found in sizes up to 10 carats. While larger gemstones are available, they charge a premium price for such stones. The crystals of garnet are usually tiny, and in the case of grossular, microscopic up to 6 inches. Garnets with poor external forms, in rock, can be much larger, such as the almandine from Gore Mountain, New York, which has a diameter of 60 cm. In Brazil, a few spessartines, have weighed several pounds and display fine colour and great transparency, but they are rare to find. A garnet crystal typically measures about half an inch to an inch in diameter.
- Colour: Garnets are seen in almost every colour except blue. Thus it is not advisable to judge a garnet by its colour alone. While the Grossular is found in a number of colours such as gray, yellow, green, brown, pink, even the Andradite is found in similar shades. A well-known commercial garnet could be an intermediate between almandine and pyrope. Such garnets are a mixture of molecules of these garnets, which means the structure contains aluminum as well as iron. An intermediate garnet usually has a distinctive purplish colour and is known as rhodolite.
- Clarity: Typically, a garnet should have little or no inclusions. However, this also differs for different garnet types. The Demantoid garnets, spessartine and hessonite are almost always included. The red garnets such as almandine, pyrope, and rhodolite do not have inclusions that are visible to the naked eye. Even so, the Demantoid can cost a few thousand while a pyrope still costs a few cents.