Friday, January 16, 2015

1.16.15 Garnets - January's birthstone

One my personal goals for this blog is to learn more about gems and jewelry.  My current knowledge has been accumulated primarily as a shopper and admirer -  but I'd like to know more.  My daughter plans to be a biochemistry major, I'm more of a written word kind of person...but one of the most fascinating things - to me - about gems is their chemistry.  Combinations of elements have to come together in a very specific way to create the crystalline structures and vibrant colors of gemstones.

On a family trip to Washington DC a couple of summers ago, we spent most of a day at the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History.  I could have spent all day in the gem room.  I love seeing
both the natural crystal formations as well as the cut stones.

Because both my mother and niece were born in January I've been thinking about garnets - hence today's post.

Garnets are a group of silicate crystals that have been used since the Bronze Age as gemstones in jewelry.  Not all garnets are red - their color is a function of the element other than silicon (generally aluminum or calcium) that combines to make the crystal.

Photo credit: GIA
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has a wonderful guide to gemstones, including garnets on their website.

As you can see garnets come a range of colors - the most common are the reds - but my favorites are the deep green tsavorite and demantoid varieties.

Photo credit: Cecile Raley Designs

These beauties, from one of my favorite jewelery designers, Yvonne Raley, are tsavorites.  I love their almost grass-like color.

You can see more of my favorites on my Pinterest board - January birthstones.

Until next time.

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