The best-known type of garnet is the dark red semi-precious stone, although many colours exist including pink, brown, yellow, violet, green and even black. Cabochon garnets, which were shaped and polished rather than faceted, were one of several red stones to be known as ‘carbuncles’, and were particularly fashionable in Victorian jewellery. Their use in jewellery goes back even further: garnets were one of the most commonly used gemstones in the late Roman world, especially inlaid in gold in the cloisonné technique, and it is even thought that a cabochon garnet was embroidered onto the high priest’s breastplate, described in Exodus.
Did you know?
- Garnet is the birthstone for January.
- Some types of garnet crystals found on the surface of rocks indicate the presence of diamonds below.
- Garnets were often exchanged as friendship tokens as a symbol of hope for the next meeting.
- Garnet jewellery is traditionally offered to celebrate a 2nd wedding anniversary.