Garnet is a bright red stone that is generally found in different places around the world: India, Brazil or Thailand. But there is a very special type of garnet found in certain areas of Arizona. These are Pyrope garnets with a bright red colour. We tell you their fabulous story!
A unique type of garnet
Pyrope garnets found in Arizona are also called anthill garnets because they are found on and around the margins of ant hills. The ants encounter the garnets while excavating their underground passages and bring them to the surface. The rain washes the garnets and carries them down the flank of the ant hill, where they can accumulate in large numbers. These gems then become easy to collect. Moreover, their brilliant luster and red colour contrast strongly with the surrounding desert soil.
Native Americans discovered them several decades ago while traveling the land by foot — this was their main mode of transportation before the arrival of the Spanish. While advancing across their land, they made sure to scrutinize the ground closely for signs of unfamiliar vegetation or animals. They then noticed the Garnet gemstone hidden within the dirt beneath their feet.
Did you know that...
The Anthill garnet is exclusively found on native lands and is not widely traded due to its unique location and rarity.
The Cultural History of the Navajo People
These red Anthill Garnets are found on the Navajo lands in the Four Corners region of Arizona. They are part of the cultural history of the Navajo people. Only collectors born in this area are allowed access to the Anthill Garnets. Jaymus, the Columbian Gem House local partner which with MYEL works on a daily basis, does not mine these gems, but instead rakes the desert to gather these small stones.
When collecting stones, Jaymus respects traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. Jaymus first recites the Holy Prayers his grandfather taught him: a greeting prayer and then an introductory prayer. Then he begins gathering the garnets on his knees, as his ancestors used to do in the past. Once the work is done, he ends with a Thank You prayer.
Today, Jaymus is the only one left who is gathering these gems in this traditional manner.
Watch this video to find out more information about Jaymus' collecting technique :
Did you know that ...Garnet is the birthstone for January : a good reason to start well the new year with this coloured gemstone. Legend has it that Anthill Garnet helps to overcome anxiety, circulate blood pressure and enhance the health of bones, lungs and heart. In the Medieval Times, garnet was the only gemstone said to heal poisons and wounds.
Stones from ethical source
At MYEL, we are committed to offering our customers bracelets, necklaces, earrings and rings made with ethical stones. We are therefore particularly demanding when we are looking for precious stones to set our jewelry. The purchase of anthill garnet, which supports a local culture and economy, seemed obvious to us!
Colombia Gem House. (n.d.) Ant Hill Garnet. https://columbiagemhouse.com/blog/anthill-garnet1/