Garnet is a very popular stone, and has been since ancient history, but for many different reasons. First of all, it is a very hardy, at about a 7 on the hardness scale, it can take quite a bit of wear and tear before showing it. It is an insensitive stone that is uncomplicated to work with, and is relatively affordable.
Second, it really is quite gorgeous. It has a high refractive index, so it is quite brilliant. Garnet is commonly red, a very desirable color in jewelry. However, garnets include about 10 different gemstones of similar chemical composition, and they really do come in every color. Garnet can be found in various shades of green, tender to intense yellow, fiery orange and fine earth-colored nuances, and even clear. Until recently it was thought that blue was the only color garnets wouldn't exhibit, until a rare color-changing variety of the stone was found in Madagascar in the 90's. This most rare form of garnet has high levels of vanadium, which causes the stone to change from blue-green in daylight to purple in artificial light. There are a few other color-changing garnets, and that's just one small peek into the fascinating world of this popular stone. Those seeking out rare gems would also be interested in Demantoids, one of the rarest forms of intense green garnet, known for being more brilliant even than a diamond.
Stories of this stone's special powers go all the way back to Noah, who is said to have used a garnet lantern to help him steer his ark through the dark night. Early Egyptians and Romans used the stone in their jewelry-making. Early explorers carried garnet with them; it was a popular talisman and protective stone, believed to light up the night and protect the bearer from evil and disaster. The stone was especially popular in Victorian Europe, when jewelery pieces were made of several small garnets set close together, almost looking like the inside of a pomegranate. In fact, the name garnet means “the grainy one,” coming from the Latin “granum” for grain. Even to this day British people commonly own garnet jewelry in this style. The stones were exchanged by friends to show affection and ensure that they will meet again. To this day some believe that garnet helps regulate the heart and blood flow, and aids in curing depression.
With so many practical and fascinating traits, and a beautiful array of scintillating colors, it’s easy to see why garnet’s popularity has remained unwavering throughout history and will continue to be loved in the future.