Anthill Garnet

Anthill Garnet is a red Garnet, otherwise known as Chrome Pyrope, that is found on the Navajo Indian Reservation in the state of Arizona. Anthill Garnets get their name as a result of how they are found and collected; gathered by hand after ants push the rough materials out of the earth as they build their homes, leaving pieces to ‘float’ to the surface. These stones have been gathered even prior to the 1850’s and were used in Cultural ceremonies during the 19th century. Chrome Pyrope are still in use as spiritual amulets today as protection stones and in hand rattles for Native American ceremonies. In fact, one of the ways you can authentic an antique Navajo ceremonial rattle is by looking inside the rattle head to see if its’ been filled with handfuls of tiny Chrome Pyrope and Peridot pieces from Navajo land.

Can you tell us a little about the source of this material?

The Anthill Garnet we offer is sourced through a traditional Navajo process, performed by our close sourcing partner & Navajo Tribal member: Jaymus. Jaymus and his family have gathered these stones for a number of generations on their traditional family land, on the Navajo Indian Reservation in the state of Arizona.

What kinds of sizes, shapes and cutting styles can be found?

Many of the Anthill Garnets you will find are cut in traditional rounds. This is because the bright and vibrant reds found in this material are especially well seen in this style. Anthill Garnets are also particularly gorgeous in melee size rounds. This material tends to get darker as they get larger, so you will find very bright vibrant reds in melee sizes and then more of the deep dramatic reds in the larger one-carat sizes. While they are available, it is reasonably rare to find this material in one-carat-plus sizes.

We also like to offer a variety of other fun styles, which include straight sided triangles, kites, and our very own signature cutting style, GeoCuts™. You can browse available styles of Anthill Garnets here.

Is this material typically enhanced in any way?

No, Anthill Garnet is never treated in any way. Outside of cutting the stone, this material is exactly as you will find it from the earth. We just see no reason to treat this material!

Are there any unique characteristics you can share about this material?

These gems are typically found in very clear qualities with little to no inclusions, especially in the smaller size pieces of rough. Chrome Pyrope is also commonly found near diamonds, but no diamonds have been found on the Navajo Reservation. This is a very hard gem material and because of the unmatched vibrant red color, Anthill Garnets are one of the premiere gem types you will find in the United States.

What are the gem specs of this material? How do we know if it is authentic?

There are not many synthetic Garnets on the market today, but if you look hard enough, there are a few. Because our team works directly with the ‘miner’ (please see the Beyond the Facets section below to learn why the term ‘miner’ is not exactly accurate for this gem), we are able to guarantee its authenticity. We personally inspect and verify all of our gem materials are true and authentic before they move into the cutting process.

The material we source at Columbia Gem House is backed with our Gem Trust guarantee. This means you know it’s an authentic gemstone and that we will share all available information with you. You can find additional gem specifications below:

Gem Type
Anthill Garnet
Fair Trade Level
1
Origin
USA
Location
Arizona
Color
Red
Treatment
No Treatment
Hardness (Mohs Scale)
7.5-8.5
Refractive Index
1.71 – 1.74
Specific Gravity
3.6
Luster
Vitreous
Crystal Structure
Isometric

How do I care for my gemstone?

Since Garnets are a very hard material (between a 7.5-8.5 oh the Mohs Hardness Scale), they are tough! While it is always a good idea to be gentle with your gems, these are very sturdy and can be cleaned with a steam cleaner or put in an ultrasonic without concern.

What can you tell us beyond the facets? I want to know more…

One of the most fascinating aspects of Anthill Garnets (also known as Chrome Pyrope) is the process in which they are gathered. These gems are not actually ‘minded’ at all! For many generations, Navajo families have hand-picked these rough stones from the land in a traditional manner that maintains the culture and respect for the land. Continue reading to learn of the process that Columbia Gem House’s sourcing partner, Jaymus, performs when gathering.

First, the anticipated harvest area is hand raked a year in advance, then given time for the Spring temperatures to eventually melt the Winter snow. After this, when Jaymus arrives on site, he begins with the Holy Prayers that his grandfather taught him. These prayers are a type of personal ceremony given for the stones as they leave their birthplace (gathering place) and travel to another part of the world. This way, the Navajo gatherer stays with them as they act as representatives of Navajo Land. He prays to the Iconic Navajo Goddess Changing Woman, with a fellow acknowledgement to Talking God, and an additional prayer dedicated to Black God. Each of these Navajo Deities have a direct relationship within the religious beliefs of the traditional Navajo people. Jaymus also gives an introductory prayer as he is facing towards the East; explaining his intentions and the basis of his visit to gather. Why face the East? As He shares it’s because the Sun raises from the East and brings forth Life (waking up), Heat (heat rays warming our cold body), Sight (see beyond the darkness), Growth (plants, food, breath). Over the course of these prayers, Jaymus also acknowledges the Ant people for introducing them and in helping him and his family find these rough stones via anthills.

Once the prayers have been spoken, Jaymus walks to visually scan the area. At this point, he moves to his hands and knees, to hand-pick and gather rough pieces of Anthill Garnets scattered on over 40+ acres of land. In some cases, this process will occur over just a single day, though during summer months, it may last over multiple days. Once the gathering process has been completed, a final ‘Thank You’ prayer is given. Jaymus thanks the Navajo deities and finds local sagebrush to dust his feet, body, swipe the ground to free it from any foot tracks. After, he leaves some of the remaining sagebrush on his vehicle bumper and dashboard as he leaves the gathering location with the newly gathered stones.

Jaymus is now the sole caretaker, gather, and protector of these stones. As passed on by his grandfather, this is a gift, which is part of why they do not ‘mine’ or ‘dig’ these stones. Words Jaymus shared from his grandfather: ‘The Red Ants that create these anthill mounds themselves are not just digging to remove. There is a specific purpose behind their own direct actions. As such, there needs to be a specific action(s) behind your own needs, in your own daily life, your own daily actions. We/you are not to take things forcefully that which does not belong to you personally. So, we gather.’ These stones are gifts from Mother Earth herself, and thus, are gathered rather than taken from her.
We hope this tradition continues for generations to come but are grateful for the relationship we’ve grown to develop with Jaymus. There is always more to learn about Anthill Garnets and the traditional Navajo gathering process or beliefs in relation to these wonderful gems.