Everybody knows garnets are red, in fact many other colours can
be found - except blue.
Historical evidence suggests garnets were used from 3100BC, and they have remained popular since the 18th century. Before synthetic ruby was developed, garnet was often used for the bearings in watches.
Chemically they are compound silicates, and come in a number of different formulae. The better stones look great when faceted, while others are given a cabochon finish. Garnets divide into a number of different types, including Almandine, Pyrope, and Andradite. Variation in the crystal structure produces these different types. Differences show in a number of ways, including the inclusions, colour, refractive index and specific gravity. However most gems come between the types, and include features of more than one type, therefore they are defined by the most dominant type.
From ancient times garnets have been valued for keeping the wearer safe from harm, and were especially prized by warriors both to protect them from injury, and to give them a feeling of peace and tranquillity. Curiously, they were also believed capable of inflicting fatal wounds, and in 19th Century Kashmir garnets were used as bullets for attacking British troops. The ancients believed the wearer would be blessed with good health, and the stone would ward off nightmares.