The name ‘Garnet’ is a broad term used for the entire family of 13 different species.
One species that seems to be the most well-known and, in this case, in a slightly more interesting form, then typically found set in jewellery.
When most hear ‘Garnet’ they think deep crimson red, but in fact Garnets can be found in green, blue, purple, pink, yellow, orange, brown, colourless and occasionally colour change or ‘Star’ Garnet. The deep red, transparent Garnet that is commonly found in jewellery is generally Almandine Garnet. These, Garnets, like all, are in the cubic crystal system, have a hardness of 7.5 and their lustre is known to be quite high. For these reasons they make for great set pieces and don’t cost the earth!
Some crystals really come to life once they have been precariously cut and polished into a beautiful gemstone; others are most magnificent in their raw crystal form. We believe almandine Garnets will always be favoured au naturel. Their perfect to near-perfect dodecahedral forms, trapezohedral forms and combinations of both look absolutely amazing. Like a crystal soccer ball! In size they can range from a few millimetres to almost soccer ball size (of course this size is rarer and not in gem quality).
Here at Made in Earth, we have begun setting raw Garnet crystals from Alaska into our jewellery. The deep red crystals pop out from the surrounding mid-grey, glittery Mica Schist. Bunny Bedi, owner and designer at Made in Earth tells us how these remarkable specimens we have in our galleries came about. “The stones are mined by hand as the shockwaves from blasting can shatter the crystals. 210L drums are filled with up to 450kg of rough and float on barges from Petersburg in southeast Alaska to Seattle and then continue their journey by road. Mining and transporting them to the port in the 500mm of rain is an adventure by itself!”
“The Garnets are mined only once or twice a year around July due to the cold weather, so stones are shipped south for cutting. Funnily enough when our supplier goes south to escape the freezing temperatures the locals, who are accustomed to the climate, head to the mine site and help themselves to his Garnets but bears and moose pose a problem as well. The bears are comparatively easy to deal with because they can be chased up a tree! It’s a miracle that the garnets were found at all as it was workmen building a logging road that blew up a small mountain and uncovered the find!”
Although Garnets may seem a little boring to some, these specimens have given our garnet gemstone jewellery collection a new lease on life. Sometimes enhancing a stone with special cuts, treatments and setting can do wonders, but here at Made in Earth we love to enjoy what nature has to offer in its rawest of forms.