Garnet - January birthstone
Garnet is not a mineral, it is a group of minerals that have been
used since the Bronze Age as gemstones and abrasives. Garnets
species are found in many colors including red, orange, yellow,
green, blue, purple, brown, black, pink and colorless. The name
"garnet" comes from the Latin GRANATUS (grain), possibly a
reference to the Punica GRANATUM (pomegranate), a plant
with red seeds similar in shape, size, and color to some garnet
crystals. Six common species (but altogether, more than ten
different gemstones!) of garnet are recognized based on their
chemical composition, they make up two solid solution groups:
Pyralspite garnets (almandine, pyrope, spessartine) and
Ugrandite garnets (andradite, grossular, and uvarovite).
Almandine is a garnet of deep red color, inclining to purple.
The name is a corruption of ALABANDICUS, which is the name
applied by Pliny the Elder to a stone found or worked at Alabanda,
a town in Caria in Asia Minor. Almandine is found in many localities:
Sri Lanka (Ceylon ruby), the US (Alaska), East Africa,
Austria (Tyrol). Large deposits of fine almandine garnets were found,
some years ago, in the Northern Territory of South Australia
Pyrope is the only member of the garnet family to
always display red color in natural samples, that is why it gets
its name: from the Greek for fire and eye. The alternate names of
pyrope are: Chrome pyrope, Bohemian garnet, Colorado ruby, Arizona
ruby, etc. Pyrope is found in the western Alps, Czech Republic
(the only source for a long time), Russia (Yakutia), South
and East Africa, Mongolia, the US. The semi-precious stone
rhodolite is a mixture of pyrope (about 70%) and almandine.
Spessartine is an orange-yellow to violet-red garnet, the
name is a derivative of Spessart in Bavaria. The major sources
for gem quality spessartine are Sri Lanka and Brazil. Other
sources include Australia, Burma, India, Israel, Madagascar,
the US (Colorado and Maine), Namibia, and Angola.
Andradite includes 3 varieties: melanite: black
in color, usually not cut as a gemstone; demantoid: vivid
green in color, one of the most valuable and rare stones in the
world; topazolite: yellow-green in color and sometimes
of high enough quality to be cut into a faceted gemstone.
Andradite also is found in rarely colorless. Andradite was named
after the Brazilian mineralogist Jose Bonifacio de Andrade e
Silva. It is found in Italy, the Ural Mountains of Russia,
the US (Arizona and California), Namibia.
Grossular belongs to another garnet group. The name
grossular is derived from the botanical name for the gooseberry,
GROSSULARIA, in reference to the green garnet of this
composition that is found in Siberia. Other shades include
cinnamon brown (hessonite or cinnamon stone variety),
red, and yellow. A highly valued grossular garnet from Kenya and
Tanzania is called tsavorite. This garnet was discovered in
the 1960s in the Tsavo area of Kenya, from which the gem takes its
name. Viluite is a variety name of grossular, that is not
a recognized mineral species. It is usually olive green though
sometimes brownish or reddish, brought about by impurities in the
crystal. It comes from the Vilyuy river area in Siberia. Grossular
is known by many other names, that include: South African jade,
garnet jade, Transvaal jade, African jade, etc.
Uvarovite is a rather rare garnet, the only consistently
green garnet species, with a beautiful emerald-green color.
It is named after Count Sergei Semenovitch Uvarov (1765-1855),
a Russian statesman and amateur mineral collector. Uvarovite is
found in the Ural mountains of Russia, Finland, Spain, Canada,
Norway, and South Africa.
The rarest of all garnets is the blue garnet, discovered in the
late 1990s in Bekily, Madagascar. It is also found in parts of
the US, Russia and Turkey. It changes color from blue-green in
the daylight to purple in incandescent light. Other varieties of
color-changing garnets exist. In daylight, their color ranges
from shades of green, beige, brown, gray, and blue, but in
incandescent light, they appear a reddish or purplish/pink color.
Because of their color changing quality, this kind of garnet is
often mistaken for Alexandrite.
Pure crystals of garnet are used as gemstones to make jewelry.
Garnet sand is a good abrasive, and a common replacement for
silica sand in sand blasting. Mixed with very high pressure water,
garnet is used to cut steel and other materials in water jets.
1. Garnet is the state mineral of the state of Connecticut.
2. Garnet is the state gemstone of the state of New York.
3. The brilliant green garnet from the Urals was a favorite gem
of Russian star jeweler Carl Faberge.
Born and raised in North Carolina, living now in Florida, Dawn
Vertrees was surrounded by artistic talent from an early age.
Dawn's father, Hugh Whisnant, was an extremely talented and
accomplished artist. His works have been displayed in prominent
public buildings throughout the South. Hugh instilled in his
daughter a love of color, form, and perspective that would stay
with her a lifetime.
Although Dawn has had an interest in sculpting since she was a
child, her first career was in the tradeshow industry as a graphic
artist and exhibit designer. Having weathered more than 25 years
of trade show floors and hundreds of thousands of frequent flier
miles, the fallout of 9/11 was the event that ultimately convinced
Dawn to get back to her love of sculpting.
The first thing you'll notice about Dawn's work is the wonderful
detail and faithful reproduction of each small detail. But looking
further, it's the "personality" she gives each piece that brings it
to life. Dawn's special abilities in this regard have won her a
faithful following of devoted fans and customers.
Dawn started sculpting jewelry originally from porcelain. This medium
allowed her to sculpt very fine detail, yet shape her leaves and
flowers in a very natural and realistic way. However, porcelain proved
itself to be somewhat fragile. The solution? Sterling silver! Dawn has
now successfully applied her sculpting techniques to sterling silver,
producing flowing, natural designs very similar to what you would find
on fine porcelain vases and tableware.
Dawn has found a wonderful outlet for her artistic talents in the design
and sculpting of her unique jewelry. Every day is a new adventure, and
every customer a new friendship. For more information about Dawn & the
projects she is currently working on, please visit her at