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Chemical symbol: Mg3Al2[SiO4]3
Crystalline system: square
Color: red, dark red to black, brown, yellow, pink, white, colorless. Transparent to translucent, glassy glitter.
Ruby is harder than garnet and has different color. Zirconia and peridot have a higher birefringence. Topaz and chrysoberyl are harder.
Laymen without any experience or special equipment may not be able to distinguish garnet from other gemstones, especially imitations. The main method of identification by color. For example, red stones are assumed to be garnet, ruby, zirconia or red glass and then by process of elimination we can narrow it down: Glass is eliminated by hardness tests, cubic zirconia by its higher birefringence, ruby based on its different shade of color etc.
(quick identification – may not be reliable)
a) Try the hardness of the stone. It should make a scratch on glass.
b) To distinguish garnet from cubic zirconia, check the birefringence of the gem. Cubic zirconia has a much higher birefringence.
c) Natural stones always have defects, inclusions, refractions and so on, which are visible under a microscope or sometimes even with the eye. Artificial stones are flawless. However, if the gem contains gas bubbles, it is glass.
1. According to the Bible, Noah used a dark garnet lamp to land the Ark safely. Garnet plates were also used in the windows of temples and churches.
2. More than 5,000 years ago, artisans in ancient Egyptian used garnet to create beautiful bracelets, necklaces and other jewelry items.
3. In 1892, the locals in Kashmir used garnet stones as bullets against British soldiers. They believed the garnet stones would cause more harm than lead bullets.
4. Native American Indians believed the garnet increased the strength of a fire and had healing properties.
5. It is said that garnet encourages the activity of the heart and improves blood circulation. It is also believed it can help alleviate pain if applied to rheumatic joints.
6. Garnet jewelry is a traditional gift for the second, sixth and nineteenth wedding anniversaries.
7. The word garnet comes from the Latin "granatum," and means “seeds of pomegranate.”
8. In the Middle Ages, garnet jewelry was worn as protection against insect bits, evil spirits and the evil intentions of others.
9. The largest producers of garnet stones are the USA (Arizona), South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Burma, Scotland, Switzerland and Tanzania.
10. In ancient Greece, relatives going on journeys were given garnet jewelry to ensure their safe return home. Garnets were even put into the tombs of dead people to ensure safe passage to the other world.
11. In 1996, the auction house Sotheby’s auctioned a garnet brooch belonging to Jacqueline Kennedy for $145,000.
12. It is said the legendary stone "carbuncle" was in fact a garnet.
13. According to legend, a Saxon king owned huge garnet weighing 465 carats.
14. Since the Middle Ages, the finest garnets to be mined are Czech garnets, which are of exceptional quality and purity despite their small size.
15. Garnet can be found in the nature in several modifications, differing in chemical composition, e.g., pyrope, almandine, spessartine, grossular, andradite, tsavorite and others.
16. Garnet can be found in every color except blue.
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