Buying and Caring for Garnet Jewelry
What Color are Garnets?
Although we tend to think of garnets as being varying shades of red (from crimson to burgundy, with or without golden or violet hues), garnets can be found in virtually every color except blue! There are even garnets that change color in different types of light. Some favorites are tsavorite and demantoid garnets (green), spessartite ( also called spessartine - golden or orange to reddish brown - the orange specimans are sometimes called mandarin garnets) and rhodolite (light to dark purplish-red).
Are Garnets Treated or Enhanced?
No! Garnets are a natural stone. They normally are not enhanced or treated in any way - what you see is their natural unique and beautiful color.
How are Garnets Cut?
Garnets can be cut in any of the common gemstone cuts - round, emerald, cushion cut, pear, oval, trillion, marquise and princess cut being the most popular.
What About Clarity of Garnets?
With a few notable exceptions, most garnet gemstones tend to be "eye clear" (meaning no inclusions can be seen without magnification) or have very few inclusions even in stones up to several carats in size. Demantoid garnets often contain fuzzy inclusions called horse-tail inclusions. These are desirable and increase value of the stone.
Red garnets with poor clarity are usually used as cabachons or fashioned into beads.
How Much Do Garnets Cost per Carat?
The price of loose, faceted garnets varies greatly, depending on the type, color and quality/grade of the garnet and the quality of the cut.
That said, typically, you can expect to pay around $20-$30/carat for faceted red garnets (almandine, pyrope, rhodolite). Spessartite runs a bit higher for average stones ($40-$50/carat), with exquisite specimans like a good mandarin garnet running well over $100/carat. Prices for faceted tsavorite start around $100/carat.
The most costly variety of garnet is the Russian demantoid garnet. Prices for unset demantoid garnets are usually well over $100/carat and can be as much as $400-$500/carat or more.
Rough (uncut) garnets cost considerably less than their professionally cut counterparts.
How Do I Care for my Garnet Jewelry?
One of the great things about garnets is that they don't require any special care! They are fairly resistant to chipping and scratching, don't change color with exposure to heat or light, and can safely be cleaned by any of the common jewelry-cleaning methods, including steam and ultrasound (though warm soapy water and a soft brush is recommended).
You should always store your jewelry in such a way that stones and settings don't come in contact with each other, but with just a little common-sense care your garnets will be as beautiful as the day you bought them for years to come!