Our knowledge of the use of garnets in jewellery dates all the way back to the Roman Empire. However, it was during the Austro/Hungarian Empire that garnet entrusted jewellery reached its zenith.

The discovery of the great pyrope garnet deposits in Bohemia, the heart of the empire, now the Czech   Republic, with their rich deep red colour, rose to the height of fashion in The Hapsburg   Court from the late 18th century, until the eventual fall of the Empire in 1918. The deep red colour was especially coveted as red & white were the proud, official colours of the Empire.

These Bohemian Garnet jewels often featured circular & cluster designs, encrusted with shimmering pyrope garnets, bringing out the rich deep red of the gems. Whole jewellery suites or parures were common place, with some of the colliers being particularly magnificently. Just as with the Scottish pebble jewellery, where non-Scottish stones were often incorporated as demand for these items increased, garnets from other geographic sources were salted into the jewellery, as supply outstripped demand.

To ascertain the age of Bohemian garnet jewellery, one must look at the style of the facets on the gems. The antique garnets feature a very high-domed style, rose cut, while the more modern pieces show a much more shallow or flat rose cut faceting. Also this was the era before the oxy-acetylene torch, so nearly all of the Bohemian garnets were set into silver, while the back plates and ring bands were often crafted in 8ct or 14ct yellow gold.

Modern examples of Bohemian garnet jewellery continue to be made today, often with inferior, dark or brownish garnets. One must be cautious not to mistake modern replicas for exceptional antique Bohemian garnet jewellery pieces.

 -Ronnie Bauer