Bohemian garnet is transparent to translucent pyrope from Czech sites. Pyrope (magnesium aluminum silicate) is a cubic mineral from group of garnets, where there are about 20 types, which vary in chemical composition as well as in size from dimensions of human head to those visible only under a microscope. Pyrope is one of the most beautiful and therefore most demanded for jewelery use (but it also has other technical uses). Pyrope name comes from the Greek “pyropos” – “like fire” according to its color in shades of dark red – or maybe from the Greek “fiery eye”; similarly the name “garnet” known since the 13th century (Albert Magnus) refers to the Latin word for “grain” (“granum”) or to color of pomegranates. Its color is similar to ruby, therefore in the past pyrope and ruby were often confused; but ruby is considerably more expensive. Historically, garnets were used in all times (eg. findings dated to the Migration Period). Most popular pyrope, according to its most famous deposit – the Czech Republic, where it has been mined mainly from the 16th century (to a small extent even before), and according to local exceptional quality and color – is also called “Bohemian garnet”. Pyrope, however, is found in other areas of the world as well, especially in diamonds mines (“Cape ruby”, etc.). Quality Bohemian garnet is found almost exclusively in the area of České středohoří and its size is usually up to 5 mm. Today it is mined in areas Podsedice u Třebenic and Vestřev u Hostinného.
The first written mention of it is already from year 1546 in book “De natura Fossilium” of physician Georgius Agricola from town Jáchymov. It was used for example for decoration of crystal vessels from the time of Rudolf II. Many historical information can be found in the book from 1609 “Gemmarum et Lapidum historia” (author Anselmus Boetius de Boot, personal physician of Rudolf II.) – pyrope is attributed to a number of therapeutic effects and the book also mentions a pyrope of a size and shape of pigeon’s egg in collection of Rudolph II. (it is possible that it is the same one, which is now located in Dresden (collection Das Grüne Gewölbe), which is the largest known Bohemian garnet with dimensions of 35 x 18 mm and weighing 9.6 grams). (More on this topic, the largest Bohemian garnet now located in the Czech Republic is in collection of the Museum of Bohemian garnet in Třebenice – 12.3 x 8.6 mm, 2.6 g). After White Mountain (1620), center of grinding precious stones moved from Prague to Turnov (here Bohemian garnet jewelry is still produced today), Rovensko pod Troskami and surrounding area. Europe-wide popularity increased after the Russian tsarevna appeared in Vienna in 1815 with a set of jewelry made of gold and Bohemian garnet. In 1820 an extraordinary set of jewelry of Baroness Ulrike von Levetzow was made using 469 Bohemian garnets. The biggest boom of processing of Bohemian garnet was the end of the 19th century, with exports to mainly Poland and Russia. At that time, mining and processing of the Bohemian garnets was a job for over 10,000 people. At the turn of the century production fell sharply (previous devaluation of quality of jewelry as well as manufacturing of synthetic ruby); these days, however, Bohemian garnet is again very popular.