Symbols: Vintage and Antique Garnet Sentimental Love Rings

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Vintage Rhodolite Garnet Ring offered by KatieCallahanAndCo on Etsy.
Vintage Rhodolite Garnet Ring offered by KatieCallahanAndCo on Etsy.

There are some people who view life as a story to be lived and told.  To such a character, a song might recall smells, feelings, and events.  Tiny tokens tucked away in a jewel box are each attached a symbolic importance in the overall story arc that is life.  This series called “Symbols” is dedicated to the romantic who stars as the main character in her own great semi-fiction.

I have spent the last couple years searching in my favorite online antique and vintage jewelry shops for the perfect love ring.

I say love ring because I do have a diamond wedding set that both my mama and I were married with.  A couple years ago, I lost one of the small diamonds from the wedding ring and an anxiety set in that I would also lose the larger center diamond.

The idea of losing the diamond that my dad proposed to my mom with, and Nick proposed to me with, was terrible.  So I got it into my head that I needed an everyday ring to wear that didn’t come with the pressure of an heirloom.

(I have a daughter now, and I hope that someday she will inherit my mama’s ring…)

Garnet Engagement Ring by TheNorthWayStudio on Etsy.
Garnet Engagement Ring by TheNorthWayStudio on Etsy.
Garnet and Moonstone Ring offered by TotemKitten on Etsy.
Garnet and Moonstone Ring offered by TotemKitten on Etsy.

Long before I started researching the meaning behind various stones, garnets were some of my faves.

As kids, my sis and I would stand at the rock guy’s booth at our mama’s monthly antique show, staring at the trays of garnets.  I especially love the purplish tone of almandine garnets and the raspberry tones of rhodolite garnets.

Garnet Leaf Engagement Ring by Oore on Etsy.
Garnet Leaf Engagement Ring by Oore on Etsy.
Garnet Snake Ring offered by GourmetVintage on Etsy.
Garnet Snake Ring offered by GourmetVintage on Etsy.
Garnet and Seed Pearl Ring offered by ToinetteJewelry on Etsy.
Garnet and Seed Pearl Ring offered by ToinetteJewelry on Etsy.

The jewelry industry is responsible for assigning modern birthstones in order to sell more jewelry.  In the 1930s they created an extensive campaign to market expensive diamond rings to a society suffering from the Great Depression.

Unlike other stones whose popularity and meaning has been enhanced by advertising campaigns, the meaning attached to garnets is ancient.

(Not to dis diamonds…don’t get me wrong, I love some diamond sparkle in my life!)

The Layla Rhodolite Garnet and Diamond Ring offered by MSJewelers on Etsy.
The Layla Rhodolite Garnet and Diamond Ring offered by MSJewelers on Etsy.

The word “garnet” comes from the Latin “garanatus,” meaning “seedlike.”  Its resemblance to the seed of the pomegranate is responsible for its Latin name.  Depending on the way they are cut, garnets can look quite juicy and seedlike.

The meaning behind the garnet can be found in Greek mythology.  After kidnapping Persephone, Hades was forced by Zeus to allow her to leave the Underworld and return to her mother.  Before she left him, Hades gifted his gal a pomegranate, hoping that its sweetness would bring her back to him.  Thus, every year Persephone returns to Hades, causing winter in the world above.

Because of Hades’s romantic success, garnets are a gift symbolic of eternal love.  Taking cues from the Ancient Greeks, lovers in the Victorian Era gave garnets as gifts of love and passion.

 

Demantoid Garnet Ring by MSJewelers on Etsy.
Demantoid Garnet Ring by MSJewelers on Etsy.

Despite the stone’s association with a red seed, garnets do come in a wide variety of colors. The bright green of rare demantoid garnets is incredible.

If you have ever browsed antique Victorian engagement and sentimental rings, you’ll see that the stone was a hugely popular gift during the era.  You might also notice that many of the stones have become worn over the last 150 years.

Garnets are only a 6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale, a rating that measures a gemstone’s resistance to scratching.  Diamonds are at the top of the scale at 10.  By today’s standards for an everyday wear ring, 6.5 is pretty low.

I’ve seen several ladies around the internet showing off their garnet engagement rings and they seem to be keeping them nice and shiny and bright.  If you tend to be hard on rings, you might want to save this meaningful stone for a necklace or a ring that you won’t be too hard on.

Antique Garnet and Pearl Ring offered by Gyllenstenjewellery on Etsy.
Antique Garnet and Pearl Ring offered by Gyllenstenjewellery on Etsy.

(I was THISclose to choosing a garnet for my love ring, but eventually left the decision up to my husband.  More on that once my custom ring arrives…!)

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