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Pyrope garnet is the best known of the red garnets. It has a distinctive red colour that often resembles the colour of ruby or pomegranate seeds. The word “pyrope” comes from the Greek word “puropus”, made up of “pur” (fire) and “ops” (eye) meaning “fiery-eyed”. This refers to the impressive brilliance of pyrope garnet, which is a result of its high refractive index. The use of red garnet dates back thousands of years, when it was used by Egyptian pharaohs for both decorative and ceremonial purposes. The ancient Romans also wore garnet rings and traded garnet gemstones. In ancient times, garnet and other red gemstones cut en cabochon were called “carbuncles”, which is not the prettiest of names because it was also used to define pus-filled boils. The Latin word, “carbunculus” alludes to a burning piece of coal or ember. This may have been used to refer to garnet because of its bright colour. Large deposits of pyrope garnet were discovered in Bohemia (Central Europe) around the 16th century, which became the focus of the jewellery industry in the area. Bohemian pyrope garnet from the Czech Republic continues to be mined today.

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