Garnet is quite a durable stone, rating a 7 to 7.5 on the hardness scale. As mentioned earlier, a necklace made of garnets was found on a young man in a grave, dating back to 3000 BC, which is proof of the stone’s durability. Garnet is actually the name for a family of ten different gems with similar chemical structure that spans a variety of colors, from red to orange to yellow, green, brown, violet, pink, or even black. The main differences between the stones lie in slight variations of color, density, and refractive index.
Garnet is best known in a deep red variety but is commonly found in orangy brown and wine red shades. A flawless, clear green garnet (called a demantoid), is one of the most beautiful and expensive gems in existence. Demantoids are softer than other types of garnets. A green garnet of over five carats is more rare than an emerald in the same size. The fire, or sparkle, of such a garnet is even higher than that of a diamond, however the brilliance is masked by the color, so a white diamond shows more fire to the eye. A large clear garnet is hard to find. The larger gems, as with other gemstones, are usually flawed, cracked or of poor color.
Garnet is one of the few untreated gems. It is available in many colors and offers great versatility. Depending on the variety, quality and size of a garnet, one can pay anywhere from $40 to $5000 per carat. Garnet can also be mistaken for other, usually more expensive gems. The red garnet may be mistaken for a ruby, while the yellow type may be mistaken for precious topaz and the green garnet may be mistaken for an emerald.
You can clean your garnet with warm soapy water and a soft brush. Always make sure you rinse the stone well after washing it. Ultrasonic treatments may also be used for any garnets except the demantoid variety. Do not steam clean your garnet. As with other stones, one should take care of their garnet and protect it from sharp blows, harsh temperatures and chemicals.
Today, the Mozambique variety of garnet is quite popular. Originating in the East African nation they are named after, Mozambique garnets are known for their high quality and wonderfully warm, red colors. Mozambique garnet is a mixture of pyrope and almandine garnet, similar in color to rhodolite garnet, but slightly more red, and darker.
Garnets are relatively common in highly metamorphic and some igneous rocks. They form under extremely high temperatures and pressure. Geologists can actually use garnets as an indication of the temperatures and pressures at which the rock (where the garnets were found) was formed. The garnet occurs in generous quantities in certain parts of the world, even in small sand particles on many beaches, as well as in rock formations. Garnets are found in Africa, India, Russia, South America, Madagascar, Pakistan, and the United States.