Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Dry Gulch Stone Journals: Garnet

Welcome!  This month, Dry Gulch will be blogging the history, science, properties and lore of all different semi-precious and precious stones. We'll talk about all the different birthstones, and about lesser-known semi-precious stones too. Today in our first post of the Dry Gulch Stone Journals, we're discovering Garnet.  Read on and discover more about this versatile and lovely rock!

Garnet rough ready to be cut and polished.

Garnet is the traditional stone for the month of January, and is known for its deep red color and glowing brilliance. The name Garnet comes from the Latin word "grānātum" for pomegranate, because the stone in the rough form tends to form in small grainy clusters that look like the seeds in a pomegranate (the stone and fruit are also very similar in color). Garnets are also the preferred stone for the zodiac of Aquarius.

Modern Garnet pomegranate pendant by WingedLion on Etsy.com

The stone itself is composed of different amounts of minerals like Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and Aluminum, but the name Garnet is actually an overall term for 6 different mineral mixes; those mixes being grossular (clear-yellow-green colors), almandine (red-burgundy), pyrope (deep red), spessartite (yellow-orange-brown), andradite (brown-black), and uvarovite (emerald green colors).

Garnet has been known across history for its luminosity, and has been used in jewelry making for millennia. With such a long history, the stone is also richly steeped in metaphysical properties. Its red color symbolizes love and energy, and is believed to imbue the wearer with health and vibrancy. It is believed it can heal ailments of the blood and heart, and is also a traditional stone for friends and lovers. In the Medieval Ages in Europe, Garnet was also known to ward off nightmares and darkness, a testament to the stone’s glowing brilliance. 

Gold and Garnet bottle amulet from the 200s B.C.

While Garnets have been used since ancient times, they are traditionally considered a semi-precious stone because of their hardness (a 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale) and abundancy. Garnets can be found all over the world, and today most come from Africa. This abundancy makes them perfect to use in bead jewelry and metalsmithing. Designers that use this stone know that they have a real piece of jewelry-making history in their hands, and that their designs will shine with it!

Garnet beads available at DryGulch.com!

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