Garnet is actually the given name for a wide group of closely related mineral species with many varieties. (Some of which you may remember us excitedly talking about in past newsletters, such as Demantoid and Spessartite)
The word garnet is derived from the Latin word granatum which means pomegranate due to the similarity between the glistening deep red seeds of the fruit being similar in shape, size and colour to some garnet crystals.
Garnet has been used as a gemstone for over 5000 years. It has been found in the jewellery of many Egyptian burials and was the most popular gemstone of ancient Rome, where it was especially used inlaid in gold cells in the cloisonné technique.
Garnets can range in colour from the most common red to treacly brown, black, rare blue, vibrant purple, deep to pale pink, juicy orange, lemony yellow, mint to deep green and colourless. Garnets can also display rare phenomena such as colour-change and asterism.
One of the most unusual types of garnet is blue, colour change pyrope-spessartine variety. These were discovered in Bekily in Madagascar in 1997. In the best samples, the colour change ranges from greyish blue to bright blue to reddish-purple.