One of the best souvenirs from the Czech Republic is Bohemian garnet jewelry. The Bohemian garnet is known for its deep, richly pigmented color that sparkles enticingly when polished.
But what should you know about Bohemian garnets and purchasing them?
A Brief History of Bohemian Garnets
Bohemian garnets, also known as Czech garnets, are a type of pyrope. They have been mined in the Czech lands for centuries, and their red color comes from the presence of minerals, mainly manganese and chromium. Their history dates back at least six centuries.
Much like Baltic amber, Bohemian garnets were first discovered after a rain – though in their case, not by the sea, but from the ground, where deposits of these gemstones were located in abundance. They were sifted from the soil where they had surfaced and were then collected.
Local production of polishing and faceting the stones developed around these areas. Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia Rudolph II helped expand these operations in the mid-16th century.
Bohemian garnets, used in religious objects for churches and in weapons and armor (due to the belief that they had protective qualities), also began to be used more widely in jewelry. Exquisite examples of sets of garnet jewelry for the nobility exist today, representing both high-quality faceted garnets and the careful and creative work of goldsmiths.
The Modern Era of Czech Garnet Jewelry
Bohemian garnets eventually became more accessible. If you’re familiar with antique jewelry, you may know that Bohemian garnets were popular in the Victorian era. It was during this time that mass production led to cheap metals being used – the Victorian garnet jewelry style aligned with this turn of events.
Due to Bohemian garnets being of typically small size, for greatest impact, many were set close together in almost invisible settings.
While trends for jewelry may have changed, it’s still possible to find both authentic Victorian Bohemian garnet jewelry as well as newly made garnet jewelry that mimics that style.
In addition, modern Bohemian garnet artisans incorporate these blood-red gemstones into updated styles and incorporate precious metals as well as various stones.
Many styles still use the close-set pave setting of a multitude of stones to get the best results in sparkle and color.
Granat Turnov – Official Producer of Bohemian Garnets
One important detail to know about Bohemian garnets is that their production is regulated. Mining locations are limited and controlled by the Granat Turnov company.
The city of Turnov has been a known site for garnet deposits since the 18th century. However, after the Victorian era, economic depression and wars interrupted the world’s appetite for garnets. After WWII, interest in these gemstones was renewed. The World Expo of the late 1950s is given credit for bringing Bohemian garnets into the international public eye once again.
The company has expanded its operations, renting land to mine garnets, opening stores, and securing a trademark for garnet jewelry from Bohemia.
The company certifies the authenticity of its garnets and its jewelry is hallmarked.
Beware of Fake Stones
Unfortunately, the market for Bohemian garnets is flooded with fakes. Because Granat Turnov is the only company licensed to sell authentic Czech garnets, and it only supplies to a limited number of companies, it can be easy to mistakenly encounter fakes.
Fake Bohemian garnets may be garnets of another type or area of origin or may even be glass. If the garnet you’re looking at is large, it’s not a Bohemian garnet – these stones are only found in small sizes.
The best way to avoid fake gems is to buy from trusted dealers and make sure you have a certificate of authenticity proving the origin of the garnets.
Where to Buy Authentic Czech Garnets
The best place to buy authentic Czech garnets is at the Granat Turnov stores. Outlets in Prague include stores at:
- Dlouhá 28
- Havířská 581/3
- Panská 1/892
- Karlova 8
The company has other stores in major cities of the Czech Republic.
Where to Learn More About Bohemian Garnets
You can learn more about Czech Bohemian garnets at various places throughout the Czech Republic.
If you’re in Prague, the Bohemian Garnet Museum may be of interest. You’ll dive into the history of these gems and how they were mined and cut in the past and how practices differ today. Run by Granat Turnov, it also has a shop that sells authentic gemstones with a certificate. It’s located at Karlova 8 near Charles Bridge in Old Town Prague.
You can also visit the city of Turnov, where the production of Czech garnets has gone on for centuries. The Museum of the Bohemian Paradise there offers considerable insight into Czech pyropes – from archeology and history to processing and even use in Czech folk art and costumes, the local garnet shines in its exhibits.