Sunday, January 8, 2012

Garnets Part 1-Colors and History

I think I was about 14 when I first fell in love with garnets, or at least the gorgeous deep pink hues I saw set into rings at a local jewelry store. I was a bit surprised to learn they were garnets as I had only heard of garnets as being brown. (I was and still am a voracious reader not to mention growing up in a rich geological area for rockhounding)

Garnets are among one of the earliest gemstones put to work for personal ornamentation. In pre-dynastic Egypt they were drilled and used as beads. The Greeks documented their use in 300BC. They have remained in use ever since. It is believed their name may be derived from the seeds of the pomegranate as the red varieties are similar in color. ie; Latin "garanatus" meaning "seedlike" in reference to pomegranates.

As with many gems garnets come in almost every color except blue. They range in all shades of red from purplish-red, brownish-red, crimson, dark red, and orangy red. There are the luscious pinks and the rich oranges of the Mandarins to the stunning green of Tsavorites. Shades of yellow to lush warm browns of the Hessonite garnets. (see bottom picture) They are found in many countries all over the world. Some are more notable than others.

During the 5th century AD Germanic tribes settled throughout Europe. They used garnets to create amazing intricate detailed jewelry in cloisonne garnet inlay. As seen in this gorgeous, round fibula that belonged to Queen Aregund ca 515-573, wife of Clotaire I, 511-561, King of Franks. (see middle picture)

They were extremely fashionable in Victorian times as well. I love these Victorian rose-cut Bohemian garnet earrings using Bohemia garnets hence the name. (see top picture)

The first two pictures are from the Antique Jewelry University site, the third is my own of my own work

I plan another post about lore, mythology and use!

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