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. Why have I become knowledgeable about Garnet in Prague? Because my wife has a January birthday.
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) but there is an option for the less well known green 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. The thing is that in Czech to get the official certificate for Czech Garnet a piece of Garnet jewellery must have stones that come only from the Turnov mine. If it’s a mix of stones then the small stones can come from Turnov but a bigger stone may have come from India or Mozambique so in that case even if there are local stones the jewellery cannot be certified as Czech because of the mix.
Bohemian Garnet Discount (Tax-Free Jewellery)
I generally go to only one shop in the city called Cohen. I trust them when they say if a product is entirely Czech. You can either save and/or print this flyer and when you get here you just need to scan the QR code which will open Google Maps and will direct you to the shop. It is a jewellery shop so lots of options but it has certified Czech Garnet jewellery i.e. only Czech Garnet (red or green) has been used. The discount is from 10% up to “Tax-free” but to get the tax-free option you need to be travelling to a final destination that is outside the European Union. If you go to this shop then ask to speak to Adam (the owner). Show this voucher and I get a commission on the agreed discounted price so it costs you nothing.
Cohen has a few shops in the area but the main shop is at Maiselova 17 in the Josefov district which is the location on the Google Maps QR code. Cohen offers same-day resizing in the shop.
How to Spot Real Bohemian Garnet
You have three tools available:
1) Electron Microscope
3) Neodymium magnet
Again, the guys at the shops above are very clear on what you are buying in terms of what is Bohemian Garnet and what is from Mozambique i.e. the larger stones are African. 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 5mm in diameter which means it’s usually multiple smaller stones used in bracelets, necklaces and brooches. Anything over 5mm is also Pyrope but will likely be African or Indian.
Look out for other types of Garnet available in Prague including Diamond Garnet where both Bohemian Garnet and African/Indian Garnet is combined with diamonds. ALWAYS ALWAYS request a certificate of authenticity from the shop if you want to be buying only Czech Garnet.