Bohemian Garnet – The Czech Ruby
Were you born in January or know somebody who was? Then Garnet is your birthstone (and is supposed to keep the wearer safe during their travels). Garnets cover a wide colour range including yellow, orange, blue, green, brown, red and black so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. This page describes one of them, the Czech Garnet which is also called the Bohemian Garnet. Check my recommended place to buy and generous DISCOUNT CODE at the end of this post.
Bohemia has been linked with Garnet mining since the 13th Century and it was a common semi-precious stone used throughout Imperial times for decorative jewellery, cutlery, furniture, in fact anything that needed to be made more grand in appearance had a chance of containing Garnets.
In Prague you can look for signs saying “Granat” which also means Garnet and has it’s origins in the Latin “Granatum” (although the most popular colour is the Almandine amber-orange, Czechs associate Bohemian “Granat” with the Pommegranate fruit that has the deep red colour).
You are going to see the labels “Czech Garnet” or “Bohemian Garnet” or “Turnov Garnet” a lot in jewellery shops but these are trade names for a type of Garnet called Pyrope which historically is mined in the north of the Czech Republic and has the deep red colour and from Latin it translates as “Fire-Eyed”. In fact only one company in the Czech town of Turnov supplies all of this type of Garnet. Pyrope was mined almost by accident as the intention was to unearth diamonds and to this day the presence of Pyrope Garnet is an indicator of high pressure rock formations that may also contain diamonds.
How to Spot Real Bohemian Garnet
You have three tools available:
1) Electron Microscope
3) Neodymium magnet
As with any shop selling crystal and glass products it can be fairly easy to substitute an expensive crystal with almost worthless glass but Garnets have a few secrets. Garnets are minerals, they have a defined crystal structure but unfortunately you need an electron microscope to see them. You can use a Refractometer to measure the RI value (Refractive Index) and for Pyrope (Bohemian Garnet) you are looking for an RI of 1.72 to 1.75. Or you can use one of the properties of Garnet, unique amongst transparent gemstones, in that they contain iron. The method that jewellers first use to spot if it’s Garnet and not just glass is to use a Neodymium magnet. You can buy these online quite inexpensively and it’s a good investment if you are serious about buying Bohemian Garnet. The Magnet method can be used either garnet-only or on garnet set in a non-magnetic metal. Expect that the Garnet will be drawn towards the magnet but not enough to lift it’s weight. The other basic way to spot real Bohemian Garnet is the size as almost without exception it’s in pieces of less than 6mm in diameter which means it’s usually multiple smaller stones used in bracelets, necklaces and brooches. Anything over 6mm is also Pyrope but will likely be African.
Look out for other types of Garnet available in Prague including Diamond Garnet where both Bohemian Garnet and African Garnet is combined with diamonds and ALWAYS ALWAYS request a certificate of authenticity from the shop.
There are literally dozens of places that claim to sell Bohemian Garnet and/or Diamond Garnet. I only recommend the Prague Garnet Center in the Old Town. It’s stock is high quality but for a truly memorable souvenir of Prague then take a look.
The picture shows one of their bespoke products in what they call their “Magic Series”. It’s a collection of rings, necklaces and bracelets with a “swivel” i.e. there are two precious stones in the same piece so you choose which way you want to wear it. You can see more on their Magic Series page.
I’ve also got a DISCOUNT CODE for the Prague Garnet Center. Just quote the number 17029. EU residents will get 10% off and NON-EU residents get a tax-free 21% off.