Known since the Antique Days, garnet has always been associated with virtues such as strength, courage or sexual energy, too. The knights in the Middle Ages used to wear the "carbuncle" to be invulnerable. Offered as a sign of friendship and loyalty, garnet has amazing facets. Portrait

It is said to make women unfaithful, but it is also said to protect men against treason. It is also considered as the key to success, it is deemed to protect against lightning, depressions, skin diseases and infections. It is also deemed as making men "wise" and indicates hidden treasures to them. Garnet has been known for a very long time, since Theophrastus (around 372 -around 287 B.C.) had already named if "anthrax" (coal). Then it was described by Pliny the Elder, a naturalist of the beginning of our era (23-79 A.C.), who referred to the almandine garnet "carbunculus" (live coal), owing to its most common colour. The term "garnet" is more recent since it dates back to 1270. It was used for the very first time by the German theologian and philosopher, Albert the Great (1193-1280) who is rumoured to have it called like that from the Latin word "malum granatum" (grain apple, pomegranate), because of its colour, either from the "granum" (grain) for its typically frequent shape as a small dodecahedron.
Garnets are a family of fine stones offering a variety of colours, of specific weights and of chemical composition. But the fundamental shape is always the same, in spite of a small number of secondary modifications: it is in fact a cubical crystalline system whose main shape is the dodecahedron. The rhombus or trapeze type or also icositétraèdre (24 pentagon sides)
The main members of this family are: The pyrope garnets also called "vermeil": deep red, vermilion dark to brown, it is a silicate of aluminium and magnesium. The term "pyrope" comes from the G reek and means "fire eye". It is chromium, just as it is for rubies, which gives it its bright red colour. The most famous pyrope garnet is the Bohemian garnet, but it can also be found in South Africa where it is called "Cape ruby" (forbidden name), and in Scotland. The biggest known specimens are the Dresden garnet (468 cts) and the Vienna Treasury garnet, as big as an egg.
The rhodolite is a clearer variety. The Bohemian garnet also belongs to this family and it is often pure.
The grossular garnet: have a green to red shade going though copper brown and orange, it is a silicate of aluminium and calcium. In this group we can find the hessonite, of an orange shade, also called "Ceylon cinnamon stone", the tsavorite of a deep green, the opaque greenish hydrogrossulaire and the colourless leuco-garnet.
The démantoïde garnet: it is an iron and calcium silicate. The colour varies from yellow to green. Unfortunately, the crystals, essentially found in the gold alluvial deposits of the Ural, are very small.
The almandine garnet: a silicate of aluminium and brown red to purple red iron. It is also nicknamed "noble garnet”.
The spessartite garnet: it is a silicate of aluminium and manganese of a brown red to red-orange, which is mainly found in the granite rocks in Virginia, as well as in Madagascar, on the Elba Island and also in Bavaria.
The uvarovite garnet: silicate of chrome and calcium, of a green colour. The chrome gives it its green shades, just as it does in emeralds. Unfortunately this stone is not used very much because it is too small.
The deposits are mainly situated in Sri Lanka, in Madagascar, in Brazil, in India, but also in Europe, which has produced many garnets in the past.
Currently, the famous « Bohemian garnet » has almost all disappeared. This ruby red garnet can be found in ex-Czechoslovakia, in the Trebenice, south of Turnov, as region also known as "Bohemian paradise" and appearing in the UNESCO list of the European geo parks. The Bohemian garnet has had an important place in the jewellery in the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century. It used to be cut as early as the 5th century, but the value of the garnet is close to the rubies towards the 15th and 16th centuries. A true industry of garnet cutting is blooming; those pieces of jewellery set with this stone are appreciated, not only by the middle classes, but also by famous characters. Napoleon Bonaparte chooses as his personal emblem a garnet bee found in King Childeric's tomb. The gold cross of King Otokar II was inlaid with garnets and Emperor Rudolph II, a patron of the astronomers Tycho Brahé and Johannes Kepler, had the biggest wash places. The sizes of the garnets found there vary between 1,5 and 8 millimetres (they are rarely bigger), with a yield of between 12 and 20 g per ore ton. Winding rivers, in woodland areas, offer the amateur prospector the joy of sieving and finding pretty small alluvial garnets.
Garnets are cut in the cabochon shape (half cone) or faceted. They may also be sculptured (carving). In the making of necklaces, garnets are either faceted into balls or rounded in polishing tumblings. When they are faceted, they are found in any and all shapes, traditional or fashion. The dark garnet will be cut as flat as possible, sometimes even bent into a curve, to lighten and intensity the red colour of the stone. Its hardness between 7 and 7 ½ enables easy cutting, on a diamond disk, while giving good polishing results on felt disks, flannel, leather or zinc, lead, with the help of cerium oxide, tripel, zinc oxide or aluminium oxide.
At the jewellery school in Turnov, in Prague, the establishment offering a wide range of training varying from wrought iron work to jewellery design, from jewellery through carving, the stoning of the garnets is one of the "facets" of the range of courses. The school is a member of the PLE (European Parliament of the jewellery schools) whose head office is situated in Saint Amand Montrond, in France. Furthermore, an exceptional collection of pyrope garnets may b e admired in the Czech Garnet Museum in Trebenice, a 13th century city, where several churches and chapels going from the gothic to the baroque styles may be visited.
In the 60s the YAG (Yttrium Aluminium Garnet) and the GGG (Gadolinium Gallium Garnet) appeared - they are synthetics discovered for use in the first lasers. They are solid crystalline but they are not garnets as understood by mineralogy. They have been used as diamond imitations before being overthrown by the Cubic Zirconium.