Derived from the Latin word granatum because of their pomegranate seed shape and color, garnets are seen in a wide range of colors and varieties. The stone has ornamental, spiritual and industrial uses. The mineral is praised for flushing out toxins and cleansing the body, and it’s also believed to clear the mind of stress. Many believe it can help regulate blood pressure and aid in circulation. According to the Talmud, Noah used a garnet to illuminate his way through the inner recesses of his ark when the earth was flooded, and garnet enthusiasts often wear the stone for guidance or direction, particularly as a way to contact angels or spirit guides. It also represents passion and is said to revive a relationship or to bring it to a deeper level of intimacy. The garnet is thought to enhance sexual powers and vitality.
Lovers, conquerors and artists have long prized the reddish stone. The famous lover Don Juan placed a garnet in his ring, and kings and emperors prized the garnet as a symbol of power and majesty. The stone became the choice mineral worn by warriors who conquered mighty Rome, and was worn by crusaders on their way to battle. It also has ceremonial uses and was one of the stones placed on the breastplate of the High Priest in Jerusalem’s Holy Temple. The garnet has ritual significance among some African and Native American tribes. Garnets are mentioned in a number of ancient myths and epic poems.
Garnets were also used by craftsmen in the Bronze Age, and are still employed in carpentry. The stone is commonly found in South Africa, Hungary, Austria, Brazil, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania. One famous find was the “subway garnet” that was discovered in the New York City subway in 1885. It was 15 inches in diameter, weighed 10 pounds, and was the size of a bowling ball. While garnets aren’t usually that large, a number of them are found in the United States and Canada. Other names for the stone include the Arizona or Montana ruby.
The garnet is found in diverse colors, with rare blue, green, and yellow forms. Iron, manganese, and aluminum account for the wide range of hues. The stone’s deep, intense colors are due to a waxy luster. When the stone is treated, its luster can appear even stronger and clearer. The garnet can be glass-like and completely transparent, or it can appear opaque like amber. Some garnets have a star effect in the center of the stone.
The garnet is associated with the month of January and is called the “stone of faith.” The Egyptians valued the garnet as a symbol of life, and garnet jewelry has been found in Egyptian and Sumerian tombs. The mineral was popularly worn as a protection against negative energy and physical harm. According to tradition, the garnet brings misfortune to dishonest people who wear it, and it carries a curse if stolen.
The garnet was one of Queen Victoria’s most prized gems, and more recently, the stone has graced the fingers and necks of Selena Gomez and Jennifer Carpenter. If you would like a unique garnet creation, stop by Diamonds Forever in San Diego for a stunning selection.