The Complete Garnet Guide

Table of Contents

  1. Garnet Consumer Information
  2. Garnet References in Antique Gemological Books

Garnet Consumer Information

As provided and validated by various gemmological organizations, laboratories and the "World Jewelry Confederation CIBJO"


Garnets are generally somewhat susceptible to heat (and to some acids) so it is recommended that garnets be cleaned with soft, non-abrasive, dampened cloths. Garnets may abrade along facet junctions if scraped.
Garnets have been used since antiquity, especially as engraved gemstones, and such gems are highly collectible. In reddish garnets the size and pureness of color is highly desirable. Green garnets are almost always small – gems over 3 carats are considered rare and are therefore collectible. Demantoids often have signature “horsetail” inclusions composed of byssolite and/or chrysotile. Clever cutters will attempt to leave such inclusions in the center of the gem to exhibit a classic, collectible gem.


Garnets are one of the few gems that are rarely treated to enhance color or clarity. In rare instances green andradite garnets may be heated to enhance colors. This treatment involves low heat so as not to damage the collectible “horsetail” inclusions.


Main colors: red, orange and yellow
Additional colors variation: green, blue, violet and black
Color variations are caused by minute changes in the chemical composition of the gem


Most garnets are relatively clean. Thus most good quality garnets should look “clean” to the eye
Exception: Mandarine Spessartines from Namibia. This gives the gem a “sleepy” appearance. However if it exists in moderation it can distribute the bright orange color nicely across the stone


Spessartites are generally cut similar to other colored stones, with ovals, cushions, trillions and emerald cuts being most common.
In the market, tsavorites are found in a variety of shapes and cutting styles. Ovals and cushions are the most common


The brilliant sparkle of the Bohemian Garnets is due to their excellent clarity, transparency and high refraction of light and therefore gained popularity in Europe in the 18th and 19th century as well as during the Victorian age.

Garnet References in Antique Gemological Books

Classic Garnet References

Several page – Factsheet on the six garnets: Grossular, Spessartite, Almandine, Pyrope, Uvarovite and Andradite. Includes geological description of occurence of different Garnet varieties.
In antique jewelry the Ruby, Spinel and Red Garnet were used interchangeably. What were the reasons?
Oliver Farrington (former Curator Chicago Nat. His. Museum) wrote an excellent chapter on Garnets, their occurence, localities, applications and physical properties

Garnets — Carbuncle — before 1700

De Re Metallica: Italians mining Garnets and Gold in German Mountains
Agricola (1600’s) on the Carbunculus (= Garnet, Spinel but not Ruby!)
Theophrastus on Anthrax = Garnet and Rev. King’s expert view on Almandine Garnets of Theophrastus
Nicols (1652) on Garnets or Carbuncle
Historic Overview Garnets in different cultures

Garnet localities in USA

North Carolina Garnets (Kunz)
Spessartite (1887) and Almandine Colorado and more spessartite (1912) in Virginia (gem quality and mineral collections)
Arizona Ruby” Garnet from Navajo Indian Reservation
Manhattan Garnets and “Ruby Mountain” Colorado Spessartite location description

Garnet in Jewelry

Garnet were used as far back as the Greeks as well as Egyptians

Famous Bohemian Red Garnets (Pyrope)

NEW!!: Bright red, untreated, Pyrope Garnets in antique and modern jewelry. 600 Years of Garnet Production in Bohemia, Czech Republic.