Posts Tagged Birthstone

The Green Garnet

Queue the Billy May orchestration, the Al Hirt trumpet solo and it’s the makings of a superhero movie.

For the purpose of this post it’s only going to be about a gem where in one of its rarest forms is an indicator in the search for Diamond. A gem that is used as an abrasive, as a sandpaper substitute in cabinetmaking and in some instance for cutting steel. A gem that was also used as ammunition.

The Garnet.
Loose Pyrope Garnet

Januarys birthstone Garnet is commonly seen in its red or reddish brown form but is in fact one of the lesser known gems. There are six recognisable species of Garnet, with at least 17 varieties. As with a lot of gems, Garnet will share a crystal structure but it is the chemical composition that gives them colour.

Unusually among gems Garnet will exist in hybrid from. That is, a mix of two or more of the species.

Let me start with the lesser known Garnet varieties.

Demantoid: An outstanding gem and highly desirable. It was used by Peter Carl Fabergé to encrust the Jewellery of the Russian Tsars as it had a similar dispersion to Diamond and exhibited a staggering array of rainbow coloured light. Not discovered until the mid to late 1800’s it is relatively new, yet occurs in different shades of green. From a pale yellowish green to a rich Emerald colour, the Demantoid commonly occurs in sizes no greater than 0.60ct. Stones above 1.00ct are rare. 

Demantoid will include needle like inclusions that take the name ‘horsetails’. They do resemble wisps of tails or a mane, and are important when identifying the gem.


Tsavorite: A most wonderful variety of Garnet of the grossular species. 

Tainted by murder, intrigue, and government controls, this gem only became recognisable by the use of a strong marketing campaign by Tiffany & Co

Before that it was known as a green grossular and more familiar to gemmologists. Unlike Demantoid it takes its colour from chromium, and iron.

Spessarite: Possibly one of the most unique Garnet species. It occurs in one basic colour and one colour only. Orange. This is why it is sometimes given the name the ‘Mandarin Garnet’. It receives its colour from one fundamental element; manganese. First identified in Spessart, Bavaria the Spessarite is now commonly found in Namibia and Nigeria. Most have a sleepy or hazy appearance due to the fine inclusions and innumerable minute crystals.Loose Spessartine

As I mentioned earlier Garnet can occur in hybrid from. Mali Garnet is a hybrid of both grossular and andradite Garnet, and Rhodolite is a mixture of pyrope and almandite Garnet. Rhodolite occurs in a Purple colour.

Falling into the the grossular species is the Leuco Garnet, which as the name suggests is in fact colourless.

So from colourless through to orange, up to red and purple there is more to Garnet than meets the eye. Coupled with the rare greens, Garnet isn’t just a dull red stone. True, the reds are no Rubies, and the Tsavorite no Emerald, but these rare Garnets can command a €10,000 per carat price.

They are a precious gem in their own right.

Few little facts:

Garnet is the Birthstone for January.

It can be given on both the 2nd and 6th Wedding Anniversaries.

Garnet will not occur in Blue.

In early biblical writing, it was referred to as a ‘carbunculus’

Garnet gets its name for the Latin ‘granatus’, Greek ‘granatum’ meaning seed like.

Garnets were used by the Hunzas as ammunition. It was said the Garnet could add ferocity to the wound.

On the Mohs Scale Garnet ranges between 6.5 and 7.5

Should you contemplate buying a Garnet, do let me know. I’m happy to guide you through that purchase and give you some tips on what to look out for.

Do please leave a comment, a question if you have any, and your thoughts.

As always, you’ll find me over on Twitter here:

Many thanks for looking



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Peridot. That’s ‘doh’ don’t you know.

Pronounce it ‘Per ‘i’ doh’, Peridot is the Birthstone for August.

The Peridot is an ancient gemstone, so ancient that it can be found in Egyptian jewellery from the early second millennium B.C. In all likelihood, Cleopatra’s Emeralds may well have been Peridot due to the proximity of deposits.  

The stones used at that time were called Topazion as they came from a deposit on a small volcanic island, Topazios (now St. Johns) in the Red Sea, some 45 miles off the Egyptian coast. These deposits were not rediscovered until about 1900.Rough Peridot

The Romans too were fond of this gemstone and revered its radiant green shine, which does not change even in artificial light. For that reason it bears the moniker ‘Emerald of the evening’.

Peridot is also found throughout Europe in medieval churches where it adorns many a treasure, an example being one of the shrines in Cologne Cathedral. During the baroque period, the rich green gemstone once again enjoyed a brief heyday, and then it somehow faded into obscurity.

It received its name Peridot in the Eighteen Century. It is a Gem of the mineral Olivine.

The Peridot as we know it is a modern gemstone, for it was not until the 20th century that Peridot deposits were located in the Kashmir region. The stones from those deposits, being of an incomparably beautiful colour and transparency, have succeeded in contributing to the image of this beautiful green gemstone.

Peridot is one of the few gemstones that occur in one colour and one colour only. Green. The intensity of the green however, depends on how much iron is contained in the crystal structure. The colour of Peridot gems can vary from yellow, through olive, to brownish-green. The most valued colour is a dark olive-green.

In history and folklore:

  • In Hawaii, Peridot symbolizes the goddess Pele’s tears. Some Hawaiian beaches are packed with tiny grains of Peridot that are too small to cut.
  • The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., houses the largest cut Peridot, a 310 carat gem.
  • Ground Peridot, taken internally, was once used as a treatment for asthma.
  • It was thought that Peridot brought power and influence to its owner.
  • Napoleon used Peridot to assure the empress Josephine of his undying love and admiration, which, of course, happened before he had their marriage annulled.

The Peridot is a gemstone that you should definitely get to know better as its fine pistachio to olive green is the perfect complement to the Irish complexion. It looks particularly good set with Diamonds, in Gold.

It’s a soft compliment to the Autumn wardrobe, and works well with Kelly Greens’ and Ochre.

Today Gem quality Peridot comes from Arizona, Burma, Norway, and St. Johns Isle. Peridot may also be found in Meteorites.

It is thought to bring its wearer good luck, peace and success. Supposed powers include Health, and protection from Nightmares.

If you would like to get in touch and Tweet me: 

You can always get in touch and leave a comment below.


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Nothing more Intense

As May is upon us, it might be time to introduce one of the Worlds most treasured Gems. The Emerald.
Emeralds are one of the most fascinating Stones you are likely to see, and indeed own.

They are uniquely one of the oldest known to man, having being in existence for over 2000 million years.

Emerald is one of the Minerals found in the Beryl Family, along with Aquamarine and Helidor.

Pure Beryl is colourless.

It is traces of Chromium and Vanadium that create the Emerald Colour.

Emerald will occur in hues of Yellow and Blue.
However the primary Hue must be Green, the Yellows and Blues being of course Secondary.
The Tone of the Gem will also dictate whether or not it is classified as an Emerald.
Anything that exhibits light Tones will be classified as simply Green Beryl.

Emeralds are naturally included.

They will carry little fissures, inclusions and cracks, most of which will give the Stone its unique characteristic.

They are, if you like fingerprints of Nature. These distinguish each Emerald, giving a stone its unique personality. It clarifies the fact that they are truly unique Gemstones.

You only need to look at an Emerald with the naked eye, to appreciate its beauty.
Looking through the depth of the Stone you will notice it’s inclusions, referred to as the Garden or ‘jardins’. A tapestry of foliage that is evocative of lush greenery.

Emerald to many will symbolise Rebirth, Life, and Hope.

Emerald Mines exist all over the world, with some of the best originating from Africa and South America. Colombia is synonymous with Emerald Mining, and perhaps it is the mines of Muzo and Chivor that are most recognised.

The Emerald was highly revered by the Egyptians, Incas, and was one thought that the Roman Emperor Nero viewed the world through a gigantic Emerald Monocle. Of this fact, Pliny the Elder remarked,
‘nothing is more intense than the green of Emerald’ and that ‘sight is refreshed and restored by gazing upon this stone’.

Today Emeralds are quite popular, although not preferred compared with Diamonds,
Sapphires and Rubies. Partly due to the number of synthetics available and the inclusions that natural Emeralds exhibit. As with most other Stones Emerald is available in all types of Cut. Round, Princess and of course Emerald Cut.

If you are lucky enough to own one, cherish it. It is a spectacular example of Natures creation at its finest.

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