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More garnet ID questions for Mr. Zeolite: Victorian Bohemian garnet?

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glitterata

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I didn''t want to hijack MakingTheGrade''s thread about garnet ID, but I have a related question.

I love deep, wine-red, rose-cut garnets from the late 19th century, which I''ve often heard described as "Bohemian" garnets. Were they, in fact, mined in Eastern Europe? What type of garnet are they? In general, what is known about these garnets?

And are they ever produced today? All the modern (reproduction) examples I''ve seen tend to have a sort of muddy brownish look instead of the clear, dark wine color of the old ones. Did the old mines run out, or are the reproductions just using cheaper stones or something like that?

Here are some examples from my collection:











(That last one is an open-backed cabochon, but the rest are closed-backed rose cuts.)
 

zeolite

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You have a delightful collection of this style of garnet jewelry.

Yes, They were mined in what is now the Czech Republic, and are pyrope garnets. I think that style is too labor intensive to be be produced today. I think the mines did run out, and pyrope today come from other sources, in perhaps lower quality today.


Here’s a link on those
http://www.bohemian-garnet-jewelry.com/introduction.html


Anthill pyrope garnets from Arizona are the finest pyropes in the world. My avatar is a very unusual purplish red from eastern Arizona. A professional gem dealer was convinced that it was a plum sapphire!





 

MakingTheGrade

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Those are lovely glitterata!
I was hoping to ask you if you had any insight about what period my ring might be from? I don''t have much knowledge about vintage jewelry, but you seem to have a lot of experience in that area (and a love for garnets as well!) I think it''s lovely to hear the stories behind vintage rings, and I''d love to try to find a little background on Beulah. Thanks!

Also, I bought a small 5mm anthill pyrope from Gemline once, it was truly a blood red pyrope hue!
 

glitterata

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Thank you, Mr. Zeolite--very informative!

MakingTheGrade, my guess is that your ring is from the late 19th or early 20th century--maybe the 1890s or 1900s. Much earlier and I would expect the diamonds to be set in silver; much later and I would expect them to be single cuts, not rose cuts (and to be set in white gold or platinum). But that''s just a guess. Jewelerman might have a better idea.
 

innerkitten

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OMG what an awesome collection! One of my art teachers at University had an heirloom set like that she would wear sometimes. I always loved looking at it. Do you wear yours much?
 

innerkitten

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By the way, my grandfather has a little house in Bohemia. I guess that must be the area where the mines were located.
 

Richard M.

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Date: 3/21/2009 10:19:21 PM
Author: zeolite
You have a delightful collection of this style of garnet jewelry.


Yes, They were mined in what is now the Czech Republic, and are pyrope garnets. I think that style is too labor intensive to be be produced today. I think the mines did run out, and pyrope today come from other sources, in perhaps lower quality today.
Actually, it was the market saturation by Victorian Bohemian garnet jewelry that caused the great decline in garnet popularity. Jewelry fashion changed direction and garnets were very unpopular until recent years. Even today not many jewelers know garnets occur in other colors than red.

Speaking of anthill pyropes, it''s their significant chromium content that gives them such pure and distinctive red color. Beautiful chromium-influenced pyropes occur in relation to diatremes, the famed Kimberlite pipes that sometimes produce diamonds. Beautiful chrome pyropes come from South Africa and several other regions. In Russia they were key clues when geologists were prospecting for diamond pipes in Siberia. There are diatremes in the American Southwest where the anthill garnets are found but very few diamonds have been found there. Some years ago Dr. Hanneman proposed that chrome pyropes be classified separately from the more common brownish iron-influenced pyropes.

Richard M.
 

icekid

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glitterata- Your antique collection never ceases to amaze me! Gorgeous
 

Fly Girl

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Beautiful antique garnet pieces, glitterata. A few years ago I admired an estate garnet circle pin and the quality of the garnets was exceptionally lovely. So pretty. I really wish now that I had snapped it up. It would have gone perfectly with your lovely collection.
 

glitterata

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Thanks for the kind words, Kitten, Icekid, Fly Girl. They''re among my favorite pieces. I wear groups of them together when I''m dressing up, individual pieces for casual. The earrings and necklace were a gift from my mother to my grandmother in the 1950s, I think. At the time they were very cheap and abundant; nowadays it''s much harder to find good examples of real, antique pieces, and they cost much, much more. So I''ve been adding to my collection very slowly, waiting to find good prices. There''s one bracelet I saw on Ebay years ago that I wish I had bought, but they wanted far more for it than I could afford. It was a wide garnet bangle, a little like the second one I posted, but the word "Souvenir" was spelled out in seed pearls. I hope I can find one like it someday.

I wonder how expensive these garnet pieces were when they were first sold. They''re generally set in gilt base metal rather than gold--or occasionally gilt silver (verneil) or very low karat gold--which suggests to me that they were more like costume jewelry than "good" jewelry. But they must have taken a lot of labor to make.

Richard, that''s so interesting about the chromium and the Kimberlite pipes. How hard is it to find nice examples of chromium pyrope nowadays? And what cuts show it off best? I assume there''s a good reason all the old stones are rose cuts or cabochons? Does that help do away with extinction, since the material is so dark?
 

Richard M.

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Date: 3/22/2009 11:04:25 AM
Author: glitterata

Richard, that''s so interesting about the chromium and the Kimberlite pipes. How hard is it to find nice examples of chromium pyrope nowadays? And what cuts show it off best? I assume there''s a good reason all the old stones are rose cuts or cabochons? Does that help do away with extinction, since the material is so dark?
The problem with cutting pyropes (and certain other red garnets) is their dark tone (not extinction -- extinction results from cutting and is a different topic). The wonderful pure red color of pyropes has caused frustration for thousands of years: when cut in sizes larger than 3 or 4 mm. round, they tend to look black in reflected light. That''s why the ancients valued staring at firelight through pieces of rough pyrope called "carbuncles." The transmitted light showed the lovely pure reds to which they attributed almost mystical importance but which couldn''t be shown in cut stones.

In more recent times pyrope cabochons also called "carbuncles" featured hollowed-out backs to allow more light to pass through them. Most were cut in Germany and I recall seeing some just a few years ago. Increased light transmission was also the reason for Rose cuts, which are essentially only the "crown" of a standard faceted gem. More light can pass through the stone at the expense of reflected brilliance from the pavilion.

Today dark garnets are often faceted with pavilion mains below the critical angle which allows light to enter and exit through the back of the stone. Again, more light passes through, lightening the tone at the expense of brilliance.

Chrome pyropes are somewhat available but not in large sizes. That''s what makes Mr. Zeolite''s avatar stone so outstanding: it appears to combine both top color in an unusual size.

Richard M.
 

T L

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I got this 4 carat garnet, sold to me as a rhodolite, on ebay. The faceter cut a very small table (it''s a little squre on top), like an antique cut, and it sparkles like crazy even though the body color is very dark. It has very chunky facets as well. I think chunky facets, as well as a high crown, really help these stones. Even in diffused sunlight it sparkles, and looks more pink as well.

When garnets have smaller facets, of the ones I''ve seen with reddish body colors, it tends to darken them. When I buy garnets now, I really pay attention to the type of facets.

rhodolite_in_white3.jpg
 

glitterata

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What a beautiful color, TL!

Richard, thanks for that very interesting info about cutting garnets!

My largest Victorian garnets are the big round rose cuts in the comb/hair ornament. The biggest is 9 or 10 mm, and the two other big ones are 8mm. They''re definitely darker looking than the smaller ones.



The cabouchon in the bracelet is also 9 mm, but I''m not 100% sure it''s actually a garnet. My aunt gave it to me after my grandmother died, presumably because I''m the only woman in the family with small enough wrists to wear it. It looks like someone took the center part of a Victorian bracelet and made a new bangle for it sometime in the 1950s. My aunt told me it was a garnet when she gave it to me, and I believed her because if it were something really valuable, like a ruby, I think she would probably have reset it and given it to one of her daughters. But I guess it could be some other red stone, like a tourmaline? I don''t know how to tell.

 

chrono

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Glitterata,
They are beautiful. I''ve always loved to get a set of Bohemian garnets myself because the designs are so unique. As usual, I am in awe of your antique collection, which sounds like a broken record considering how often I''ve said it, but it''s true.
 

zeolite

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Date: 3/22/2009 12:53:58 PM
Author: Richard M.


Date: 3/22/2009 11:04:25 AM
Author: glitterata

Richard, that's so interesting about the chromium and the Kimberlite pipes. How hard is it to find nice examples of chromium pyrope nowadays? And what cuts show it off best? I assume there's a good reason all the old stones are rose cuts or cabochons? Does that help do away with extinction, since the material is so dark?
The problem with cutting pyropes (and certain other red garnets) is their dark tone (not extinction -- extinction results from cutting and is a different topic). The wonderful pure red color of pyropes has caused frustration for thousands of years: when cut in sizes larger than 3 or 4 mm. round, they tend to look black in reflected light. That's why the ancients valued staring at firelight through pieces of rough pyrope called 'carbuncles.' The transmitted light showed the lovely pure reds to which they attributed almost mystical importance but which couldn't be shown in cut stones.

In more recent times pyrope cabochons also called 'carbuncles' featured hollowed-out backs to allow more light to pass through them. Most were cut in Germany and I recall seeing some just a few years ago. Increased light transmission was also the reason for Rose cuts, which are essentially only the 'crown' of a standard faceted gem. More light can pass through the stone at the expense of reflected brilliance from the pavilion.

Today dark garnets are often faceted with pavilion mains below the critical angle which allows light to enter and exit through the back of the stone. Again, more light passes through, lightening the tone at the expense of brilliance.

Chrome pyropes are somewhat available but not in large sizes. That's what makes Mr. Zeolite's avatar stone so outstanding: it appears to combine both top color in an unusual size.

Richard M.
Thank you, Richard. My avatar garnet, which I like to call my "plum Sapphire", was offered as a single crystal. There was no other rough from which to select.

Below is my other chrome pyrope, which I like to call my "ruby". It, in a sense, was created, not purchased. Cut chrome pyropes are sometimes available in over one, and very rarely over two carats, but they are so dark as to be black. I searched through perhaps 800 crystals, trying to find one with the lightest tone, with the lowest concentration of the coloring agent, chromium.

Then it was cut smaller than maximum size possible, to lighten the tone. It was cut as shallow as possible, both crown and pavilion, while being just above the critical angle. It fiinished at 1.08 cts. I showed it to three different ruby specialists at the AGTA show in Tucson, without saying what it was. All three took it as ruby, though one did comment it had a tiny amount of brown. I don't see that, but ruby speciialists are more attuned to the finest ruby color than I am. So that is why I call it my "ruby".

redPygarn_108.jpg
 

T L

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Date: 3/22/2009 3:59:05 PM
Author: glitterata
What a beautiful color, TL!
Glitterata,
Thanks!! The best part was the price! I wasn't expecting much for what I paid, but I was very excited to receive a pretty gem and a large carat weight with nice faceting (American faceting no less) for very little. You don't see that everyday. I love the antique faceting as well, and I think you would too since you are a fan of antique cuts.
 

Sagebrush

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Gliterata, et al,

Most of what I have seen in "Bohemian" garnet I took to be almandine due to the brownish secondary hue. However, after a little research, I see that the material found in Bohemia near Trebnitz had a brown secondary. The modern stuff uses Indian almandite. Pyrope, as I understand it, has less iron, more magnesium. Is there a distinction between pyrope and chrome pyrope? Clearly the South African and Ant Hill are a purer red hue, is that the result of higher concentrations of chromium?

Am I correct that all the truly old stuff it pot metal? The sterling I have seen was mostly 20th Century. I have not seen Bohemian garnet single cuts!

Another point, if you take the old rose-cut pieces apart you will often find a little tin mirror set in back to reflect light back through the crown. Some eye-straining labor!
 

oldmancoyote

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Date: 3/22/2009 3:59:05 PM
Author: glitterata
What a beautiful color, TL!

Richard, thanks for that very interesting info about cutting garnets!

[snip] My aunt told me it was a garnet when she gave it to me, and I believed her because if it were something really valuable, like a ruby, I think she would probably have reset it and given it to one of her daughters. But I guess it could be some other red stone, like a tourmaline? I don''t know how to tell.
Thanks to all that have posted. Very interesting info.

Glitterata: If it''s transparent enough, you may be able to check for single vs. double refringency (if there is no sharp line on the stone, a single line on a piece of paper looked at through the gem may do). Single refringency would be a pretty strong indication of it being a garnet - of course, if you are lucky it could be a spinel, or the other way it could be glass...
 
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