Before I became a jeweler (and used garnets in my work) I worked as a tour leader in Pakistan and China. With a very old bus, I drove from Pakistan over the Karakorum Highway (one of the most dangerous roads in Asia) into the direction of Kashgar, where we should start the Silk Route. The weather was awful, it was raining already for days and there were landslides all over the road.
It was not looking good and I was really worried that we had to turn around, back to Peshawar in Pakistan. At one point we had to stop because they were moving the debris caused by a landslide by hand. And that could take a while. It did not rain anymore and we went out of the bus.
Garnet: the treasure to be found along the road
Curious as I am, I see some funny looking cubical stones just along the roadside. I gather a handful and ask the driver what they are. He said ‘Ohhh, that is just garnet’. ‘Garnet, I ask him, you mean the gemstone? Yes, but they are worthless when they are not polished. You will find them everywhere here’. What a shame to do nothing with those gems. Pakistan has so many hidden gems (not only garnets), that it should be a very very rich country.
My garnets back to the Netherlands
Anyway, I take a handful of garnet back to the Netherlands. My father is a jeweler and I am convinced that he can do something with them. That is before I studied mineralogy. My dad says that cutting the garnets would be impossible since you lose such a lot of stone and that they will get too small to use in a piece of jewelry. The only way to handle this is by polishing them in a kind of washing machine with sand and water. That process takes about one week!
I do not have a ‘washing machine’ that can do the job. But my love for the garnet and all the mystery around it was born. One way or another I want a decent cut and polished garnet in a piece of jewelry. A lot of years passed by…
Sri Lanka, when you are looking for beautiful garnets
A few years later I had a tour in Sri Lanka. And I tell you that being a tour leader is a hard job and you don’t have a lot of time to look for gemstones or souvenirs. I am lucky. Next to my hotel is a very small gemstone shop and I stop there for a moment (I plan to stop there for a moment). There is a very nice guy and he offers me a cup of tea and starts telling about his collection, mostly garnets.
Most of the garnets are red, but he shows me garnets in all the shades of red, but also orange, brown and black garnets. He tells me that the garnet is formed in the magma of the earth, then on the way to the surface mixed with all kinds of minerals, which causes the color differences.
The garnet washing machine trick does not work!
It is a hard stone and hard to polish. No wonder my ‘washing machine trick’ does not work with garnets. And because they are so hard in time the surrounding rock will erode and the garnet particles will be left behind. And that’s how I find them along the road of the Karakorum Highway.
Garnet, the red birthstone of January and more!
When you want a very special gift for your best friend or maybe for yourself and you want to make it very personal, you will find the best present in a jewel with a birthstone. You show that you care and have thought a lot about what special present will be best.
FlorenceJewelshop has an e-book, where you can find all the birthstones, with the stories behind it. Here you will see the birthstones you are looking for and why don’t you give this free e-book as an extra gift?
Just let me know where I have to send it too!
Hug Florence from FlorenceJewelshop