I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again: What is it about Denmark and style? There is so much beautiful design in general, and jewelry in particular, coming out of that country (Pandora, Trollbeads, Lovelinks, Ole Lyngaard, Skagen, etc.). One of the newest brands to emerge, and one that I like a lot, is Blossom Copenhagen.
Launched in May of 2011, Blossom Copenhagen features six collections of interchangeable charms and pendants (as well as leather wrist wraps, necklaces and earrings) designed by Christina Lihn, who previously was at Georg Jensen. As I noted in my article about Ole Lyngaard, flexible jewelry seems to be a huge, enduring trend in Danish design, and here we see it again.
The charms and pendants are all created from Christina’s hand drawn sketches, using traditional goldsmith techniques. The designs have an organic, but soft, feel to them, and the marketing materials (and overall look of the brand) has that delicately feminine and nostalgic “French country / shabby chic” look that is so popular in home decor both in Scandinavia.
Falling in love you & I
A recurring theme is hearts – all the collections include at least one heart charm, and Christina herself says “I am a true romantic and I design jewellery for women who love a feminine touch. My favourite symbol is the heart, and that is the focal point of the entire collection”.
I especially like the “Falling in love you & I” – a different and unique take on the heart charm necklace (and the little charms can hold tiny items), and the hot air balloon-inspired pendants in the Romantic Discovery collection.
So far, they are available in Denmark, the UK, the Netherlands and Australia, and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before they arrive in the US (or at least with an online retailer. I hope I’m right – they’re so pretty, and affordable too. The most expensive piece retails for the equivalent of $130.
The new Pandora spring/summer collection for 2012 was just released with a bunch of new beads and rings, as well as a few earrings and pendants. The recurring themes in all of them are flowers and hearts. And the possibility to mix and match – clip beads can be used as pendants, the rings can be stacked, etc.
The new bead collection consists of lots of sterling silver charms (the camera bead is a favorite), several with dangles (love those!), some with cubic zirconias or enamel, and a few mixed metal.
There are three new gold charms (my favorite is this clip with a dogwood flower set with a black diamond) and several very pretty Murano glass beads in “happy colors” and two different designs – the subtle “looking glass”, and the retro-feeling “Stepping stones” beads.
There are 7 new pendants, 6 in silver with various stones (spinel, rhodolite, Quartzite, etc.), one mixed metal, and one in 14k gold with a white opal. They are all gorgeous and I’d be hard pressed to choose a favorite, but if I had to pick just one, it would have to be the the mixed metal – it’s sterling silver and 14k gold with a pretty, feminine and understated flower-carved mother of pearl.
The new earrings collection (four in sterling silver with stones and two mixed metal) features three new stud designs (which match some of the pendants), three earring charms (also matching) and one pair of silver and 14k gold ear wires with a pretty little flower and loops to hang charms from.
The new ring collection is so pretty! It consists of 12 sterling silver rings set with birthstones, 5 sterling silver and 5 mixed metal rings that match the pendants (yes, there is one that matches that adorable flower mother of pearl) and two gold. Most of the rings can be stacked.
There are also some new watches, but to be perfectly honest, I never wear a watch, so I’m not really interested in those.
In conclusion, it’s a very pretty collection, spring-inspired both in colors and designs, and price-wise, there is something for every budget, from (the surprisingly affordable) $20 spacers and $25 sterling silver beads to the $720 gold dogwood flower clip above.
In honor of March being Adopt a Guinea Pig Month, I thought we’d do a post featuring Guinea Pig charms and pendants. I love guinea pigs, they are so adorable, friendly and personable. It’s so cute how they start “talking” to you (more like squeaky happy little guinea pig sounds) as soon as you walk into the room, and how they sometimes jump straight up in the air (“popcorning”) when they are excited or happy.
Guinea Pigs, whose scientific name is Cavia porcellus, (they are often called Cavies) originated in South America where they were domesticated around 5000 BC already (although not so much for their cuteness but as a food source). The Peruvian Moche people worshipped them and often depicted them in their art, and statues of Guinea Pigs dating back to 500 BC to 500 AD have been found in both Peru and Ecuador.
They made their way to Europe in the 1500s where they became popular pets (Queen Elizabeth 1 of England was very fond of them). Today, they are popular all over the world, and it is estimated that there are around 3.5 million guinea pigs kept as pets in the US.
Unfortunately, many of those pets end up in shelters for a variety of reasons – changing family and living situations, unplanned guinea pig babies, lack of time, failure to understand the extent of the commitment of owning a pet before getting one, etc. It is such a shame, because guinea pigs really are wonderful pets, quite low-maintenance, and so much fun.
Typical guinea pig life expectancy is around five to seven years (although they can live longer) and they are very social animals (they live in large herds in the wild), so if you consider adopting, please don’t get just one, your cavy needs a friend.
They will need a large cage with a solid floor to live in, toys to play with and a house to hide in, bedding to sleep on, and lots of time to exercise outside of the cage. Their diet should consist of lots of top quality hay, pellets (especially made for guinea pigs) and a variety of vegetables, especially those that contain a lot of vitamin C – guinea pigs do not produce vitamin C on their own, but they need it for their survival. The ASPCA has lots of great information about caring for guinea pigs, and a downloadable pdf with care tips.
If you are interested in adopting (or fostering) guinea pigs, contact your local shelter or go to Petfinder.com and type in your zip code to search for available pets in your area.
Collage by Charms Guide
1. Sterling silver necklace with a tiny handmade guinea pig charm by California artist Sue of Lulu Bug Jewelry
In the modern tradition, the birthstone for March is the gorgeous Aquamarine (in the mystical tradition it’s Jade and in all others Bloodstone – more on those in separate posts).
Morganite, Aquamarine and Heliodor
Aquamarine is a member of the Beryl family, which also includes Emeralds (green), Morganite (pink – purple), Heliodor (yellow), Goshenite (Clear) and Bixbite (red, very rare). Pure beryl has no color – these stones get their different hues from impurities, and in the case of Aquamarine it comes from iron. The stones are also almost always heat treated which enhances the blue color by removing some of the green and/or yellow that may be present.
The word Aquamarine comes from the Latin aqua (water) and mare (sea) and it certainly is an apt description of the colors of these stones, which range from a pale light blue to deep greenish hues. They are fairly abundant and are mainly mined in Brazil, but also in Madagascar, India, Nigeria, Russia, China and the US.
The stones can come in huge sizes and it is not unusual to see large cut aquamarines of 40 – 50ct. Aquamarines can be quite affordable, but the price of course depends on size and quality. Greenish-blue ones with lots of inclusions are at the lowest end of the price scale, while clear (no inclusions), intensely sky and dark blue stones usually fetch the highest prices. Having said that, beryl sometimes have inclusions that produce rare asterism (star) and cat’s eye effects, and aquamarines with either of those can be quite costly.
Aquamarine Healing Properties
Aquamarines are said to protect seafarers, enhance communication, help you stick to your goals in life, become less self-centered, alleviate depression and anxiety, calm fears, promote tranquility and a light heart and boost creativity and intuition. Holding an aquamarine while meditating helps you focus and go deeper into the meditation. It is also believed to help with the immune system (allergies), the thymus gland, spleen, heart, throat, lymph nodes, eye inflammation, arthritis, and varicose veins.
In addition to being the birthstone of March, it is the planetary stone for Pisces, the state gem for Colorado, the birthstone for October in the Roman, Hebrew and Arabic tradition, and the 19th wedding anniversary stone.
I love aquamarine and always carry a small rondelle with me when I’m not wearing aquamarine jewelry – I find it calms and centers me, especially when I hold it in my hand. Give it try yourself and see what you experience.
As usual, I have selected a few favorite aquamarine charms and pendants:
Collage by Charms Guide
1. Handmade sterling silver and aquamarine necklace pendant by Colorado-based artist Nancy Green
2. Sterling silver Donatella flower charm with an aquamarine dangle. From Macy’s
3. Handmade sterling silver and aquamarine Tree of Life pendant by Florida-based artist Miss M. Turner of Phoenix Fire Designs
4. Vintage 14k gold bracelet with amethysts and aquamarines from Ross-Simons
5. Handmade silver and aquamarine owl charm by British silversmith and artist Caroline of Little Bird Studio 22
6. 14k white gold necklace with an aquamarine and diamond flower pendant from Angara
7. Copper, tin and brass Hamsa hand talisman with aquamarine, glass and Swarovski Crystals. From AmuletGifts.com
8. 14k gold and aquamarine bead charm from Pandora
Amethyst is a member of the Quartz family. Quartz is a mineral, the most abundant on earth, and not only does it make up around 12% of the earth’s crust, it is everywhere. Even those of us who are not living under a rock have quartz all around, perhaps without realizing it. Your TV, computer, watch, cell phone and granite kitchen counter top all contain quartz.
Quartz is commonly divided in two groups – Macrocrystalline (which has visible individual crystals) and Cryptocrystalline (which has crystals you need a microscope to see, sometimes also called Microcrystalline). Amethyst is the purple variety of quartz, and it is part of the Macrocrystalline group.
Amethyst is the birthstone for February (except for in the Mystical tradition, where it is Bloodstone. We will cover Bloodstone in the March birthstone post, because it is the birthstone for March in several other traditions), the astrological birthstone for Aquarius, Pisces, and Sagittarius and the 4th, 6th and 17th wedding anniversary gemstone. It has been known and used “forever”, and it was one of the stones in the breastplate of Aaron. It is mainly found in Brazil; other locations include the US (Arizona), Canada, Mexico, Bolivia, Uruguay, Germany, India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Namibia, Zambia and Russia.
Amethysts range in color from pale pinkish purple to deep violet and they are the most popular of the quartzes. In spite of that, they are very affordable (the darker the stone, the more expensive it is, generally), and if you’re shopping for the high end variety, you want to look for nice, clear transparent stones without inclusions (i.e. things like bubbles, crystals, graininess, cracks etc. inside the stone). In jewelry, you most often find them faceted or cabochon cut.
Amethysts are sometimes heat treated to alter the color slightly, and when lighter varieties are exposed to heat, they “turn into” citrine (so most citrine on the market is amethyst that has been heat treated).
The ancient Greeks thought amethyst could prevent intoxication and instill a sober mind. The name comes from the Greek “amethustos”, which means “not drunk”. In traditional dramatic Greek fashion, there is the story of Bacchus (a.k.a. Dionysus) and the young maiden Amethyst. A mortal had insulted Bacchus, who as revenge decided to let tigers go after the next human who happened to come along. It turned out the be Amethyst on her way to worship the Goddess Diana. Diana knew of Bacchus’ plan and to spare Amethyst turned her into a quartz pillar, which made Bacchus so remorseful that he wept tears of wine, which turned the now quartz pillar Amethyst purple.
Amethyst Healing Properties
Amethyst is one of the most important stones in crystal healing, believed to get rid of negativity and promote a more positive view on life, protect its wearer, aid in meditation, help when going through major life changes, heal a broken heart and make the wearer able to trust others and fall in love again.
It also helps with addictions, stress, nightmares, insomnia, anger, grief, and feelings of being victimized. On a physical level, it alleviates arthritis and balances the thyroid, helps with headaches and strengthens the skeleton.
And it might be worth it to invest in some amethyst jewelry even if it’s not your birthstone. Crystal Energy Therapist Karen Ryan says “If you could choose only one crystal to wear for healing, Amethyst is the one – it heals all things at all levels”.
Luckily, there are tons of gorgeous pieces to choose from. Here are some of my recent favorite amethyst charm and pendant finds:
As promised in the last Trollbeads news post, the spring collection was just around the corner, and I’m happy to announce that it has arrived!
It’s a fun, playful and pretty collection, consisting of 15 sterling silver beads, 1 gold, 1 mixed metal, lots of glass (in pretty shades of brown/beige and white as well as bright spring colors), and 2 gemstone (ruby and smoky quartz) beads, 1 onyx gemstone bead kit, 1 new clasp, and 3 tassel beads (love the snowdrop tassel bead pictured below) .
The “fun” category includes the whimsical sterling silver cake form, tea and coffee cup beads designed by multi-talented silversmith Lone Løvschal (who also designs beautiful silver tableware, utensils, and her own line of jewelry). The playful includes two adorable baby bunny beads, and the pretty includes all the glass (in my opinion), especially the tassel beads.
This collection also introduces a new Trollbeads designer, Lars Sögaard, who designed three of the silver beads.
Here is a little collage of my favorites in this collection:
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I thought a post about heart shaped jewelry would be in order.
The Heart – An Ancient Symbol
The heart as a symbol was used as far back as 10,000 BC, although scientists are not exactly sure what it symbolized at that time. In more recent civilizations, it was long believed that thoughts, reasoning and the soul were housed in the heart, and in ancient Egypt, the heart was not only the center of life, but morality and character as well, and your heart was judged to determined your future in the afterlife. The Egyptian Book of the Dead illustrates how after death, a person’s heart is taken to the judgment area and put on a scale opposite the feather of Maat. If the heart was lighter than the feather, the person was all set to enjoy whatever came after, but if it was heavy with sin, the heart would be eaten by the demon Ammit and the person would cease to exist. (so dramatic!)
But why is the heart symbol shaped the way it is? It doesn’t look anything like an actual human heart. And why do we associate that shape with love?
There are many (possible) explanations: Some say it’s because it resembles several different female body parts (use your own imagination here); some claim it is because of a vision Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque had in the 1600s (although that one doesn’t really hold up, because there are stained glass windows with heart symbols that way predates that – maybe she was just commenting on the decor!); it has also been suggested that it’s the heart in the Book of the Dead that inspired it (although I personally think that looks more like an urn or sometimes an actual anatomical heart, but…).
Then there is the theory of the Silphium plant. The seeds from this now extinct variety of wild fennel are shaped just like the heart symbol we use today, and they were widely used as a natural contraceptive. The plant grew in Cyrene (an ancient Greek colony where Libya is today), and was a great source of income for the area. It was extensively commercially traded and the seed pods were even depicted on their coins. It also had a slew of other health benefits (Pliny the Elder wrote that it could be used as an antidote for poison, re-grow hair, cure leprosy, sore throats, etc.), and unfortunately, demand was larger than supply, and it was picked to extinction.
And why it’s associated with love – well, we all know what the heart feels like when you’re in love (or going through a breakup). No mystery there.
Time for the visual part of the post – my selection of some favorite heart charms and pendants:
Collage by Charms Guide
1. Sterling silver filigree heart charm by Rembrandt
3. 10k rose gold charm with set with a red stone (they label it garnet, then say it’s labradorite in the text. Red labradorite has been much debated and a source of both great controversy and lawsuits in the professional gem world. I just wanted to mention that so you can make an informed decision about the piece. Regardless of the quality of the stone, I like it, and I think it’s pretty, so I included it). From Sundance.
Wallis Simpson used to say “I’m not a beautiful woman. I’m nothing to look at, so the only thing I can do is dress better than anyone else.” And she did – she was a style icon of her time, and it was not just her clothes; she also had some fantastic jewelry.
She is in the spotlight again thanks to Madonna’s new movie, W.E., which is all about Wallis Simpson and Edward Windsor (King Edward VIII before he abdicated in 1936 in order to be able to marry her), told in a story that alternates between the past and the present. There has been tons written already about the costume design – Madonna was adamant that everything be true to the original, and when she wasn’t able to get her hands on the original designs, had exact replicas created (several of the large fashion houses offered to make them for her).
And the same goes for the jewelry – what you see in the movie is a mix of antique pieces and reproductions. There is the famous panther bracelet, the zip necklace from Van Cleef & Arpels, and my favorite: the Cartier cross charm bracelet, which was a gift from Edward to Wallis while their relationship was still a secret (set costume designer for W.E., Arianne Phillip,s has described it as being at the center point of their relationship). It consists of a chain of diamonds with nine gemstone-encrusted platinum crosses which she received as gifts from Edward over the course of 10 years to mark certain milestones in their relationship. Each cross has a date and a personal message inscribed on the back, and the fronts are set with sapphires, rubies, emeralds, aquamarines, diamonds and amethysts.
Wallis (who became the Duchess of Windsor after she married Edward) loved the bracelet and wore it almost every day, including at her wedding. The original was sold at Sotheby’s, first in 1987 (the profits from that auction were donated to the research hospital Institut Pasteur in Paris) and then again in 2010 for just over £600,000 (equivalent to around $940,000 today). The one we see in the movie was recreated by Cartier based on drawings they had in their archives.
Cartier recreated 10 pieces of jewelry all in all for the movie, but once the promotional phase is over, they will be destroyed. Seems crazy, but Cartier says they’re doing it in order not to devaluate the originals. One piece they don’t have to worry about though is that cross bracelet – it was lost in the Mediterranean while filming a beach scene in Nice (makes you wonder if someone has found it by now and is hiding it at home, doesn’t it?).
Madonna loved that cross bracelet and wanted to keep it for herself, but Cartier had already said no even before it was lost. BUT, they did make her a similar version which she has been seen wearing quite a bit (I noticed she was wearing it on the Graham Norton show earlier this month).
The movie opens on February 3 here in the US, and I can’t wait to see it. From the previews, it looks gorgeous – the scenery, costumes, the jewelry, everything.
I don’t know what it is about the Danes, but for such a small country, they have an extraordinary number of talented, groundbreaking designers in every possible discipline – art, architecture, furniture, clothing, jewelry, you name it. Even their (super cool) Queen Margrethe II is an artist – a painter, illustrator and set designer.
Some of my favorite mid-century modern furniture designers were Danish (Verner Panton, Arne Jacobsen, Bruno Mathsson), some of my current favorite clothing brands are Danish (Noa Noa, Bon’a Parte, Cream), and then there is of course the jewelry: Trollbeads, Pandora, Lovelinks, Georg Jensen, Skagen and Pilgrim are all Danish brands.
But today, the topic is Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen, a jewelry company that was started by its namesake in 1963. After studying and working all over the globe, Ole, a goldsmith, returned to his native Denmark, bought a small workshop and started building the brand. His jewelry was very well received and slowly but surely, the company grew.
1979 was a big year for Ole Lynggaard: he revealed a completely new type of clasp for his jewelry. It was a truly groundbreaking design – not only was it functional, and so pretty that it became an important part of the jewelry rather than just a utilitarian item, but more important was the fact that the clasp could be moved from one piece of jewelry to another, which made it possible for the wearer to create their own look. It was an instant hit, and today, all their jewelry carries (a variation of) this lock.
Interesting how the easy customization concept keeps surfacing again and again in Danish jewelry – just think of Trollbeads, Pandora, Lovelinks, and Georg Jensen’s Fusion collection. Makes sense I suppose, since according to Professor Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, Denmark is an individualistic society (he gives them a score of 74, which places them in the top 10 among individualist countries along with the rest of Scandinavia, the US, UK and the Netherlands). Anyway, I digress.
Ole’s daughter Charlotte inherited her Father’s design talent and at an early age decided to become a fashion designer and worked in PR and fashion in Paris for a few years. Trained as a goldsmith, she eventually discovered however, that her true passion was designing jewelry, and, like her Dad, went on to work with jewelry around the world for several years. In 1992, she returned to Denmark to join her Father’s company. Today, Charlotte (who is regarded as a trend setting style icon in Denmark) is the head designer, and Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen is still a family business – her husband, Michel Norman, is the head of sales, her brother Søren is the managing director, her sister-in-law Hanna also works for the company, and Ole himself is still very much actively designing and crafting jewelry. Their headquarters are located in a cozy old house just north of Copenhagen, where the entire staff of 75 (30 are goldsmiths) is housed.
Princess Mary wearing a Lynggaard charm bracelet
In 2008, Ole Lynggaard was appointed a purveyor to the Danish court, and the company was invited to participate in a tiara exhibit at Amalienborg museum. Their contribution was a design by Charlotte: a breathtaking tiara in rose and white gold and oxidized silver set with diamonds and moonstones (it has since been worn by Princess Mary, who has been spotted wearing many other Lynggaard jewelry pieces as well).
Charms have been part of their collections for many years now and there are also many small pendants that can be used as charms. And the collections for Spring 2012 will add even more charms to their lineup with the release of the “all charms” collection My Little World. The new Dew Drops collection is all pendants and charms; the Katrine collection includes one “sweet spot”; and the Lotus collection has several of the smaller pendants.
So, what are the different charm collections? Well, the ones that have been around for a while are:
The Sweet Drops collection, designed by Charlotte, consists of thick leather bracelets and 93 interchangeable charms, made from 18k yellow, rose and white gold, silver and gemstones. The many different stones come in both faceted and smooth versions, and some are set with a single diamond. The solid precious metal charms come in “plain”, set with 10 or 66 diamonds (white or black), filigree cut with 6 diamonds, and there is an adorable little birdcage charm in gold with a tiny gold bird inside. The collection also includes a few red coral charms, and in line with the whole “flexible jewelry” concept, all the charms can be added to their silk and chain necklaces and link bracelets as well.
Sweet Spots, designed by Charlotte and made from 18k gold, sterling silver and gemstones, are flat rounds (the collection also includes four hearts) designed to be clipped onto the Sweet Drops leather bracelets.
The Spot On collection is essentially Sweet Spots for men. Also designed by Charlotte, it consists of the same type of “disks” that clip onto chunky leather bracelets. The charms are again made from 18k gold, sterling silver and gemstones, but in simpler designs and darker, more “manly” colors (blue and green), and one design also features a dragon.
The My Friend collection was designed by Charlotte and consists of 18k gold and sterling silver charms and pendants in the shape of a penguin and a fish. The jewelry was designed to support Børnefonden (ChildFund Denmark) and a portion of the sales are donated to them.
This very pretty and feminine collection was inspired by a flea market find (a vintage piece of lace) in Paris and consists of rings, (amazing) clasps, earrings, bracelets, pendants and charms in 18k gold and diamonds.
The Spring 2012 Collections
The new charm collections are:
My Little World
The most traditional of their charm bracelets to date, this new collection (designed by Charlotte to represent certain “moments in time” of the company’s history) consists of a chain bracelet and 36 charms in 18k gold, sterling silver, coral and gemstones. And one thing I really like is that when you buy one of these charms, it comes attached to a black string bracelet, so if you prefer that look, there is no need for the added cost of a chain bracelet.
This collection was also designed by Charlotte and is similar to the Sweet Drops. It consists of pendants and charms in 18k gold, sterling silver and gemstones. The design is a little bit different though, and the settings are more ornate and many of the stones are opaque.
The Katrine collection, designed by Ole, consists of earrings, brooches rings, clasps and one sweet spot, all in the shape of butterflies in 18k gold set with lots of tiny diamonds (some have over 150!).
The Lotus is the “flagship” collection in the Spring 2012 release. It was designed by Charlotte, and she has described it as “gypsy style” and “bohemian with a splash of luxury”. The rings, earrings and pendants (large and small) are made from 18k gold, sterling silver and gemstones. It really is a fantastic collection and both the settings and the colors of the gemstones, which almost seem to be glowing, are stunning.
Danish supermodel Helena Christensen is the most recent face of the brand (a position previously held by actress Connie Nielsen and singer Lene Nystrøm), and the new, gorgeous catalog was shot by Marc Høm. Helena’s eyes almost match the gemstones in some of the pictures – amazing.
Ole Lynggaard is a luxury brand, and these designs are not inexpensive – charms range from around $270 (My Friend penguin in sterling silver) to $10,000 (18k gold Sweet Drop with 66 diamonds), Sweet spots are $1,400 to $3,500, and the Lotus drops retail for around $980 to $5,400 (prices are based on current exchange rates and include local taxes). BUT, when you take into account that everything is handmade on site and they only use top notch gemstones, 18k gold, sterling silver and high quality leather, it definitely feels like money well spent. And a good investment – this is jewelry made to last a lifetime (and longer).
Where To Buy
Unfortunately, there are currently no retailers here in the US, and they don’t have an online store. But there are stores all over Europe, as well as in Australia, New Zealand and Japan. And they are constantly expanding, so there is hope. Søren Lynggaard has been quoted as saying “We want to develop the company, but when we do it, we do not want to make compromises, so we´re taking it at our own pace. You don´t want to break your neck by moving too fast. We want a healthy company that we can be proud of!”
In the meantime, I’m going to take my chance to visit one of their stores the next time I’m in Europe. In a way, it’s kind of nice that there still are things you can’t get everywhere in the world.
The birthstone for January is Garnet in pretty much every tradition except for the mystical where it is Emerald (more on Emeralds in a separate post). Garnet is also the anniversary gemstone for the second and sixth year of marriage, the zodiac birthstone for Capricorn and Aquarius, and the planetary stone for Pluto.
I love the brilliant sparkle of garnets (it also happens to be my birthstone), and I’m not the only one. They have been popular for thousands of years (even though many of the varieties we talk about here have been found in the past century), both as adornment and as protective talismans. Legend has it that Noah put a garnet in a lantern to light his way in the night, and the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all used them in jewelry.
As usual, if you want to skip the text and go straight to the featured charms and pendants, just scroll down to the end of the post.
Garnet Healing Properties
In crystal healing, garnets in general are connected to the sacral chakra and are believed to help with the reproductive system and PMS, boost passion for life, charisma, creativity and libido, stabilize emotions, combat negativity and feelings of inferiority, inspire love, bring luck, success and protection. (There is more on the specific properties for each type of garnet in the descriptions below).
Physical Properties of Garnets
Garnet is most often thought of as a red gemstone (indeed the word “garnet” is often used to describe deep red items), but the fact is that garnets come in many different colors, each with its own name and properties.
Garnets are a family of silicates with basically the same crystal structure, and the variations in color are due to different chemical compositions. There is a lot of overlapping between the different types, and trade names abound. Even the experts sometimes disagree on what’s what, but everyone agrees that there are two main groups – Ugrandite and Pyralspite – which each include three “main species”.
Simply put, the Ugrandites are calcium silicates and include Andradite (iron), Grossular (aluminum) and Uvarovite (chromium) garnets. The Pyralspites are aluminum silicates and include Almandine (iron), Pyrope (magnesium), and Spessartite (manganese) garnets. Each of these “main species” have several “sub”-varieties which are usually a blend of two or more of the main types. The colors vary depending on the balance of the blend, and unlike many other gemstones, they are never treated, so what you see is what nature actually created. Good job, nature!
Almandine Garnet is a deep purple or brownish red. It is an abundant and affordable stone, the most common of the garnets. It is thought to help the wearer focus, increase productivity, and promote stamina. The Almandine family also includes:
Rhodolite Garnets, a blend of Almandine and Pyrope. The name comes from the Greek and means “rose stone”, and these very pretty pink garnets come in many shades from light pink to purple. They were first discovered in North Carolina in the late 1800s, but today they are mainly mined in India and Africa. It is a fairly abundant and affordable variety. The most sought after (and most expensive) color is Raspberry pink. Rhodolites are believed to help with frigidity, stabilize the metabolism, and enhance inspiration and intuition.
Mozambique Garnets. Also a mix of Almandine and Pyrope, and very similar to Rhodolites, but a bit darker and more on the red side. Widely available and affordable.
Umbalite Garnets are a blend of Almandine and Pyrope with a little bit of Spessartite mixed in, resulting in a purplish pink stone, ranging from light to dark fuchsia. It is really a variety of Rhodolite named for the location where it is mined (the Umba Valley of Tanzania). Pretty rare and sought after, they can be on the expensive side.
Star Garnets (also known as Asteriated Almandine) are such a dark red they almost look black. It is the state gemstone of Idaho (where, in addition to India, they are mined) and they get their name from rutile needles (mineral “straws” running through the stone), which create a star-like effect known as asterism. The most common is a four-ray pattern, but they are also found with six rays (supposedly in Idaho only). They are always cabochon cut, and fairly affordable.
The Pyrope garnet family includes Rhodolite, Mozambique, Umbalite (all described above), and of course Pyrope. Pyropes (also known as Bohemian garnets) are those deep blood red stones that people usually think of when hearing the word garnet. They were extremely popular during the Victorian era and are often found in antique jewelry. Today however, they have faded from fame, and are consequently very affordable.
This rarest and most expensive family of garnets include Demantoid, Mali, Melanite, Topazolite and Rainbow garnets.
Demantoid Garnet is the star of the Andradite family and comes in a variety of green hues, from pale peridot-like yellow-green to intense, deep emerald-like hues. The stone, one of Karl Fabergé’s favorites, was first discovered in the mid 1800s and is the rarest, most brilliant, and most expensive of all the garnets (generally, the darker the green and the clearer the stone, the more expensive it is). Demantoid garnets are believed to boost vitality and alleviate fear, insecurity and feelings of loneliness.
Mali Garnet (sometimes called Grandite), a mix of andradite and Grossular garnet, was discovered in Mali in 1994. This beautiful brilliant yellow-green (and many shades thereof) stone is very rare and consequently expensive.
The dramatic black opaque Melanite get its color from titanium (it is also sometimes referred to as Black Andradite Garnet or Titanian Andradite). It is common, very popular in jewelry, and inexpensive. Melanite is thought to remove energy blockages, enhance relationships and remove anger, distrust, envy and jealousy.
The yellow Topazolite is named for its similarity (in color) to topaz, and comes in hues ranging from yellow-green to darker brownish amber yellow. It is rarely found in pieces large enough to use in jewelry. It is believed to help stabilize spiritual and emotional turbulence and protect frail people and young children.
Rainbow garnet is a dark brown (with an orange tint) iridescent Andradite first discovered in Japan in 2004 (now also mined in Mexico and New Mexico). It is among the most rare of all the garnets and you don’t see it a whole lot in jewelry.
The Grossular Garnet family has quite a wide color range and includes Tsavorite, Hessonite, Merelani Mint, Rosolite, Leuco and Hydrogrossular garnets. In crystal healing, Grossular garnets are thought to help with emotional trauma and promote peace and tranquility, both externally and internally.
The intensely green Tsavorite Garnet, ranging in hues from bright yellow green to deep, almost bluish green, was first discovered by Scottish geologist Campbell Bridges in Tanzania in 1967. Tsavorite was eventually brought to the US where Tiffany & Co’s Henry Platt gave it its name and started promoting it. It is a rare and difficult stone to mine, but in spite of that, less expensive than emeralds. It is, however, the second most expensive of the garnets, and prices for “perfect” stones equal those of Demantoid. Tsavorite is connected to the heart chakra and is thought to help with inflammatory diseases (like rheumatism and arthritis), kidney function and boost the immune system.
Merelani Mint Garnets are “cousins” of Tsavorites and get their name (Merelani) from the area in Tanzania where they were first discovered. Also a brilliant, sparkling green, but lighter in hue (mint green), these garnets are rare and expensive.
Hessonite Garnet ranges in color from almost clear to warm golden yellow, orange andbrownish orange red and is also known as the Cinnamon Stone. It has been used in jewelry for thousands of years, particularly in carved pieces like intaglios and cameos. It is a fairly affordable stone thought to have many healing properties. It is an important stone in Ayurveda, where it is known as Gomed, and is associated with the planet Rahu. In short, it is believed that wearing a good-sized hessonite garnet can counter the ill effects that Rahu can cause, and it also brings luck, wealth, good health, success and longevity. In western crystal healing, it is believed to promote self respect, regulate hormones, and help us move forward in life and take on new challenges.
Rosolite is a bright pink Grossular garnet that ranges from transparent to opaque. They are mostly mined in Mexico, very rare and usually too small to be cut to gemstones.
Leuco (from the Greek leukos, meaning “white”) garnets are fairly rare, transparent, colorless Grossular garnets, hardly ever seen in jewelry.
Hydrogrossular garnets, also called Transvaal Jade, are inexpensive, opaque Grossular garnets from the Transvaal region of Africa.
Spessartite (or Spessartine) Garnets
Spessartites are my favorites! The garnets in this family come in many hues of orange, from bright sunny “juicy” hues to deep orange-red. They get their orange color from manganese, and the more iron (in the form of almandine) the stone contains, the darker the orange. Spessartite garnets are thought to help with fertility, lactose intolerance, depression and fear, strengthen the immune system, promote creativity, confidence, beneficial risk taking and rational thought. This family includes:
Spessartite (or Spessartine). First discovered in the mid-1800s in Spessart (Germany), the bright orange Spessartite was for some reason not particularly popular, except for among gemstone connoisseurs and collectors. These days, they are very popular, but in spite of that, fairly affordable, thanks to their relative abundance.
Mandarin Garnets (also known as Tangerine) are highly sought after Spessartites from Namibia. They were first discovered in 1991, and the find helped propel Spessartite garnets into the spotlight. They are darker in color and much more expensive than “regular” Spessartites.
Malaia (or Malaya) Garnets, a mix of Spessartite, Almandine and Pyrope, were first discovered in Tanzania in the 1960s. Colors range from pinkish orange to orange/brown/pink with a touch of yellow (stunning!) to rich honey hues to deep red orange, and the most priced are those described as peach colored. They are very rare (only found in the Umba Valley of East Africa) and prices range from fairly to very expensive.
There is also a variety called Imperial garnet, which is very similar to the Malaia; the difference is that the Imperial garnets come from Madagascar or the Linde province of Tanzania. They are a mix of Spessartite and Pyrope and come in colors from very pale peach to red pink, often with rutile inclusions.
Color Change garnets are amazing! A mix of Spessartite and Pyrope, they appear to change color depending on the lighting situation. Some are dramatically different, shifting from grayish green when viewed in daylight to deep red in incandescent light; some go from pale yellow in daylight to bright orange in incandescent; while others display only slight shifts in hue. It has always been said that garnets come in every color except blue, but the discovery of certain color change garnets changed that: there are some that look blue in artificial light (and purplish pink in daylight). Color change garnets are rare, popular, and expensive.
The dark green Uvarovite garnets were first discovered in Russia in the 1830s and are rarely found in clear gemstone quality. More common is Uvarovite drusy (drusy is a term for a coating of crystals that have formed on the surface of a rock, giving it a sparkly, sugar-like appearance) and as drusy has become quite popular in the jewelry world, you can find quite a bit of it. It is fairly inexpensive.
You occasionally also come across a few other garnet names such as:
These are not other varieties of garnets, they are names given to the stones above by traders, sellers, etc. for various reasons.
- Kashmarine is Spessartite from Pakistan - Taveta is blue color-change garnet from Kenya’s Taita-Taveta region (pretty spectacular) - Hollandine was the original name for Mandarin garnets
- The term “Champagne” is sometimes used to describe yellow-brown Andradite and Imperial garnets - Gooseberry is another name for Grossular garnets – the word Grossular comes from the Latin grossularia, which means “gooseberry”.
That was a lot of information! Here, finally, is my selection of charms and pendants that showcase some of these beautiful gemstones:
5. Sterling silver necklace with a checker cut Spessartite garnet charm pendant by New York artist Yvonne Raley. NOTE: I have to confess that I bought this necklace as a birthday present to myself – I just fell in love with it as soon as I saw it. But no worries, Yvonne has one more identical charm pendant and more jewelry featuring Spessartite in the works (as well as lots of other gorgeous gemstone jewelry).
6. 14k gold and Rhodolite Garnet charm by JewelryWeb
7. Grossular garnet, Tsavorite and sterling silver egg pendant by Fabergé.