Used for millennia and over the centuries in jewellery, garnet stone once bore the name ‘Red gem’, from the Latin ‘malum granatum’, a grain fruit closely resembling the colour of pomegranate. The Romans named it ‘carbuncle’, meaning ‘little spark’. Its presence in various religious texts demonstrates the importance of the garnet Stone’s symbolism: in the Bible it is a lantern to enlighten Noah in the midst of darkness and the term ‘little spark’ is used in the evocation of the fourth heaven in the Koran.
In ancient times, however, it was difficult to identify these garnets due to the lack of an accurate method of identifying gemstones, empirical tests being less than rigorous. Garnets were sometimes confused with rubies, along with spinels, with regard to the pyrope garnet category. However it should be noted that there is a great difference in the hardness and cleavage between these stones, allowing one to distinguish them. As garnet is much less rare than Sapphire or Ruby, it was used to engrave agates, jasper, ivories, etc. to represent faces or animals, in Rome, Greece or ancient Egypt. There was a large variety and in its powder form, its abrasive qualities were used for easily polishing these stones, especially for quartz which is a less hard stone. The common garnet was used instead of other non-precious and rare corundum. In terms of hardness and availability, this stone was well suited.
In the fifth century AD, the success of garnet was sealed during the fall of the Roman Empire. This was because barbarians used it in jewellery, incorporating the Byzantine style, to which they added their techniques and their expertise. Equally, the Vikings used them during funerary ceremonies, ascribing the garnet the virtue of being able to guide the dead towards Valhalla, their paradise. Merovingian jewels composed of garnets, including fibulae or Garnet pendants, are exhibited at the Museum of National Antiquities in Saint-Germain-en-Layee and at the Cluny Museum in Paris. They were roughly polished and never faceted to preserve the initial volume of the raw stone.
The 18th century also saw the use of garnet in Europe thanks to Bohemian garnet jewellery. In the 19th century this stone was used by Hunza warriors in Northern Pakistan. Due to its blood colour, it was believed to have lethal properties, and the Hunza warriors would fire bullets made of garnet at their British enemies.
Garnet stone has its mineral origin from its isometric crystalline system. Also called pyrope almandine when used alone, the majority of garnets are often sorted into two categories: nesosilicates and semi-precious stones for quality garnets. Composed almost exclusively of garnet, it is then referred to as granatite. However, this stone is also a component of some metamorphic rocks (eclogites, paragneiss) allowing one to specify the history of their pressure and temperature.
Garnet is a family of isomorphic minerals, of group 4/m32/m of the cubic system, with forms derived from the nesosilicates group (nesos meaning island in Greek). They are formed in three-dimensional shapes of isolated and unlinked tetrahedrons, sharing, however, octahedron and tetrahedron apexes, formed by identical oxygen atoms. In the space between these polyhedra there are triangular dodecahedron-shaped cavities, in which there are bivalent cations in coordination number 8. These cavities can be described as deformed tetragonal antiprisms so that the apexes are no longer coplanar. The link is of a very large size as it contains no less than 96 oxygen atoms. No cleavage has been observed.
Psychologically, garnet stone has many properties, bringing joy, passion, energy, courage, drive and confidence. We associate it with willpower, improved self-confidence, and success. Garnet stone is a powerful grounding stone. Garnet is attributed the power to free oneself from negative behavioural patterns and also of regenerative power, to help combat discouragement, depression, failure and emotional instability. This stone promotes self-respect and also allows us to cope with obstacles or feelings of persecution. Finally, garnet allows regressions to past lives.
On a physical level, garnet has a defining role in strengthening the heart and regulating blood circulation. In addition, by increasing blood plasma and thus white blood cells, the assimilation of haemoglobin is improved. This is a valuable aid in the case of leukaemia or anaemia, reducing the fatigue of these ailments. The capillaries are also reinforced, decreasing abscesses, boils, inflammation and skin diseases, as well as internal and external wounds. Garnet has a strengthening role on several organs, including the liver, spleen and kidneys. The reproductive organs are stimulated, improving potency, and protecting from diseases. Tinnitus can also be treated. For bone health, we also note the power of garnet against arthritis and rheumatism, osteoarthritis, various scleroses and osteoporosis, as well as bone fractures. The spine may also be protected.