Ant Hill Garnets

What Are Ant Hill Garnets

Though not very often, you will sometimes come across the name ant hill garnets. So what are ant hill garnets, are they really gemstones and how did ant hill garnets get that name. A garnet is not one single gemstone, it includes many gems of a specific type. Red pyrope garnets are one of the most popular type of garnet gemstones. Ant hill garnets are basically pyrope garnets but, refer to only some pyrope garnets. In this brief report we trace the history and meaning of ant hill garnet gemstones.

As the name suggests, ant hill garnet stones are found near or within ant hills. These garnets are not historically connected to the ant hill, they can get into the vicinity of the ant hill at any time even today. Small pieces of weather and water worn garnets are sometimes present near the site that the ants build their home. These garnet 'pebbles' are dug up by the ants as they make their ant hill. The Navajo territories in the arid regions of Arizona are the best known areas where such ant hill garnet gems are found. These stones are not a specific variety or type of garnet gems, they are basically pyrope red garnets brought up to the surface of the earth in an interesting way!

Some historians believe that the Navajos used these ant hill garnet stones as bullets, this was around the year 1800. They probably found them to be the right size for a bullet, the stones were ofcourse quite abundant during that time and were free! The warriors also believed that the red color of ant hill garnet stones, produced severe and even fatal wounds.

The physical properties of ant hill garnet gems are similar to those of pyrope red garnets, they are after all pyrope garnets. The hardness factor of 7.25 coupled with an attractive price point, has kept the demand for red garnets at a consistently high level. In most cases you will hear that red garnets are not treated in any way, this is generally true even for ant hill garnet gem stones. However we do have some reports of gem  cutters using a medium heat to heat ant hill garnets, this is supposed to enhance their color.

Talking about the color of ant hill garnet gemstones, you will often come across terms like 'vivid red', 'lucious red' etc being used to describe what ant hill garnets should look like. Back in the real world, most ant hill garnet stones will have a good red, very few might be exceptionally vivid red. The color saturation in these garnets can be so high, that larger sizes might appear quite dark and even black. If you need good red garnets it does not matter whether they came up by the efforts of a human miner or an ant. But if you enjoy gems with an interesting story or origin then insist on ant hill garnet stones by all means.

Studying the availability of ant hill garnet gems proves rather interesting. Marketing hype sounds great if you say something like, ant hill garnets are found only in the Navajo areas of Arizona. The fact is that if you did find garnets near ant hills which are proved to be dug up by ants, anywhere on this planet, you can safely refer to those gems as ant hill garnets. The fact is that these stones are not very abundant, so supply is limited. The lack of commercial scale deposits keeps away large scale operations to collect these garnets. Just remember that sizes are generally quite small, you don't expect ants to carry 10 carat stones! Keep expectations within the 2mm to 6mm range and that is being realistic.