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Garnets for January

With so many different garnet species, the sources for this gem vary. Most tsavorite garnet comes from the East African countries of Tanzania, Kenya, and Madagascar. Russia is recognized as the source for high-quality demantoid garnet. Garnets are rarely treated. Garnets can even exhibit the color-change phenomenon similar to the rare gemstone alexandrite.

Garnets can come in many colors, but some have specific variety names. Purple-red to purple almandine is called rhodolite. Brownish orange grossular is known as hessonite while green grossular is called tsavorite. Green andradite is called demantoid.

Thousands of years ago, red garnet necklaces adorned the necks of Egypt’s pharaohs, and were entombed with their mummies as prized possessions for the afterlife. In ancient Rome, signet rings with carved garnets were used as seals to stamp the wax that secured important documents. Centuries later, during Roman scholar Pliny’s time (23 to 79 CE), red garnets were among the most widely traded gems. In the Middle Ages (about 475 to 1450 CE), red garnets were favored by clergy and nobility.

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