The name garnet refers to a group of silicate minerals with multiple varieties. Among the most abundant and well known we find spessartine (between amber and brick orange), grossular (green, cinnamon brown, red or yellow), andradite (green, also known as demantoid), pyrope (blood red to black red) and almandine (golden to transparent).
However, due to the variety of possibilities in its chemical composition, garnets can also be purple, brown, black, pink or almost colorless.
Its name comes from Latin "malum granatum" and it shares its etymology with the grain fruit that we know as pomegranate, besides the most common are red garnets which are similar in color, shape and size to pomegranate seeds.
Due to its hardness and abundance, the pyrope variety has been used as an abrasive for thousands of years to polish and engrave other gems and crystals such as quartz.
At the time of the Roman Empire, naturalist Pliny the Elder called them "carbunculus" (burning coal) after studying a purplish-red garnet. Garnets are mentioned in several ancient Greek tales, legends and myths; the best known perhaps being the legend of the kidnapping of Persephone by Hades.
Also called red gem, it used to be carved in Rome, Greece and in Ancient Egypt, often to represent faces or animals. The Bible says that to direct his ark in the darkness of the flood, Noah would have used a garnet lantern.
With the fall of the Roman Empire, garnets began to be used more and more by barbarian peoples to make jewelry in which they took up the Byzantine style adding their own techniques and their mastery of cloisonné. The Vikings used garnets for funeral ceremonies, as it was believed to be able to guide the dead to Valhalla.
Pakistani warriors from the Kashmir region are said to have fired garnet bullets at the British to escape the occupation of their country in the 1890s.
In Merovingian times (5th to 8th century AD), a large number jewels with garnets were created in which the gems had rough finishes and no facets; an extensive collection of them is in the National Archeological Museum of Saint-Germain-en-Laye in France.
Semi-precious stone of transformation, sometimes of transmutation, it has the property of helping overcome adversity, turning it into positive experiences. It enhances vital energy while fighting tiredness and apathy. It has been claimed to strengthen the heart as garnets would regulate blood pressure and blood circulation. Besides it tones various organs such as the liver and kidneys and stimulates the reproductive organs while protecting them.
It encourages the development of survival instinct and is beneficial for those suffering from depression. Temperamental people, on the other hand, should refrain from wearing a garnet, as it would enhance those features. It is associated with the power of will, self-confidence and success, making garnets a stone of anchorage.
The main garnet deposits are found in the Czech Republic, India, Madagascar, Brazil, Tanzania, Canada, Russia and Groix Island in France. The most famous garnet jewelry and ornate pieces are from Bohemia, Czechoslovakia.