The garnet is a very well-known clear gem, even among people who have never taken an interest in gemology.
It certainly lives up to its reputation, being both relatively available and a terrific alternative for anyone searching for a stone to mount in a setting. The members of the garnet group are: Andradite, Almandine, Pyrope, Rhodolite, Spessartine, Grossular, Malaia and Grandite. Found in many hues of red, yellows, oranges (such as the new Mandarin garnet) and even green (called tsavorite), this is a hardy gem of 6-7 on the Moh scale, and it withstands wear very well. It is a great substitute for other, more expensive gems that you may not be able to afford and in fact has a long history of being substituted for emeralds. Red garnets are commonly mistaken for fine-clarity rubies and the yellows are mistaken for very rare yellow topaz. Another strange breed, called ‘grossularite', is not clear like regular garnets, but instead is opaque green and is so similar to jade that this misrepresentation occurs and ‘star garnets' may even seem purple, as they displays a four-ray star-pattern that is red with violet undertones. Garnets can be either expensive or cheap. One of the more expensive varieties is tsavorite at about $500-$2000 per carat for 1 and 2 carat weight gems. For 2 and 3 carat gems the price is about $1300-$4000 per carat and for 3-5 carats the cost is about $2000-$7000 per carat.
Garnets have great brilliance and they sparkle beautifully in different kinds of light, despite the mild color change that may appear. There is even a kind of garnet that changes color, appearing red in incandescent candlelight or lamp-light, but changing to blue in daylight or florescent lighting. The sheer range of color, clarity, quality and availability of this gem are impressive. They also have the added bonus of being, for the most part, natural stones that are left untreated. Oiling and waxing enhancements are not usual in garnets and they do not fade over time. Their color holds vibrantly throughout the years. Depending on all these factors, garnets can be bought for as little as $40-50 per carat weight and up the thousands of dollar per carat weight for finer quality or rarer color. As to cleaning garnets- never boil or steam garnet stones because of their vulnerability to high temperature. Tending to crack or fracture, it is safer to clean garnets at home in a bowl of warm, soapy water.