Historical Reading List: Red Pyrope Garnets from Bohemia

This antique hair comb set with Bohemian pyrope garnets from the Czech Republic is part of the National Gem Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. Courtesy: Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution

The Čéske Středohoří highlands of central Bohemia in the Czech Republic have been the source of gem-quality red pyrope garnets for hundreds of years.  The region is located about 60 km north-west of Prague.  Mining of garnets began in the area in the 16thcentury, although early European jewellery created a millennium earlier has been found to contain this material.  Rock breccias resulting from volcanic eruptions are thought to have been the host of the garnets – these breccias contain fragments of a mantle rock called peridotite (here altered and serpentinised), which appears to have been the original source of the garnet.  The pyrope crystals, typically in sizes of up to about 6 mm in diameter, are generally recovered as loose grains from sediments that are spread over a large area.  The garnets are separated by washing these sediments.  At times in the past, vertical shafts were also constructed to access the garnet rock underground.  Much of the garnet production is manufactured for jewellery use in this same area of the country.  Bohemian garnet jewellery was especially popular in the 19thcentury, and is still valued today.


This reading list was compiled to give you an opportunity to learn more about the history of red pyrope garnets from Bohemia. A number of the articles were published in the 1800s and early 1900s – when many classical gem deposits of historical importance were discovered – and gemmology and mineralogy became sciences. The list is presented in chronological order to emphasise the development of ideas over time. The list is not comprehensive, but a compilation of the sometimes interesting gemmological information that has often been forgotten or overlooked.

Many of the articles exist in the public domain and can be found online at digital libraries such as Hathitrust, Internet Archive or other digital repositories. More recent publications can often be found in libraries, including the Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library. Abstracts of these articles can usually be found on the website of the original journal or magazine, and the article itself is often available for purchase from the publisher.

Regarding the GIA library’s holdings and on-site access, please contact the GIA library in Carlsbad.

Garnets from Bohemia were mentioned by Georgius Agricola, the “father of mineralogy”, in his 1546 work De Natura Fossilisum(Textbook of Mineralogy).

Chemische Untersuchung der Böhmischen Granats [Chemical Examination of Bohemian Garnets], F.K. Achard, Neue Philosophische Abhandlungen der Baierschen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vol. 1, pp. 282-325 (1778).  An early study of the chemical composition of Bohemian garnets.

Oryctographie der Gegend von Bilin [Fossils and Minerals from the Area of Bilina], F.A. Reuss, Abhandlungen der Böhmischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften, pp. 58-74 (1788).  An early description of pyrope garnet from an area of Bohemia.

Granaten [Garnets], J.G. Krünitz, Oekonomische–Technologische Encyclopadie, Vol. 19, pp. 702-708 (1788).  An entry on garnets from an early encyclopaedia.

Granaten [Garnets], Unknown author, Deutsche Encyclopadie, Vol. 13, pp. 221-224 (1788).  An entry on garnets from an early encyclopaedia.

Granat-Steine [Garnet Rock], Unknown author, Salzburger Intelligenzblatt, No. 42, Columns 683-685 (1792).  A brief description of garnets from Bohemia.

Chemische Untersuchung des Böhmischen Granats [Chemical Examination of Bohemian Garnets], M.H. Klaproth, Beiträge zur Chemischen Kenntnis der Mineralkorper, Vol. 2, pp. 16-21 (1797).  An early study of pyrope undertaken by a famous chemist.

[Bohemian Gemstones], J.A. Demian, Darstellung der Oesterreicheischen Monarchie nach den Neuesten Statistischen Beziehungen, pp. 62-62 (1804).  This book contains a short section on garnet and other gemstones from Bohemia.

Undersökning af Pyropen från Meronitz [Examination of Pyrope from Meronitz], H.G.T. Wachtmeister, Kungliga Svenska Vetenskapsakademiens Handlingar, Vol 13, pp. 216-223 (1825). An early chemical analysis of Bohemian pyrope.

Analyse des Pyrop’s vom Stifelberge in Böhmen [Analysis of Pyrope from the Stifelberge in Bohemia], F. von Kobell, Archiv für die Gesammte Naturlehre, Vol. 8, pp. 447-454 (1826).  The author provides a quantitative chemical analysis of pyrope.

[Bohemian Garnet], K.M. von Sternberg, Monatschrift der Gesellschaft des Vaterländischen Museums in Böhmen, Vol. 1, (May), pp. 62-67 (1827).  A description of the garnet deposits is presented.

Böhmens Edelsteine [Bohemian Gemstones], F.X.M. Zippe, Abhandlungen der Königlichen Böhmischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften, Vol. 4, pp. 21-54 (1837).  A summary description is presented of Bohemian gem minerals including pyrope.  The article was summarised in the Verhandlungen der Gesellschaft des Vaterländischen Museums in Böhmen, pp. 31-47 (1838), Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie, Geognosie, Geologie und Petrefaktenkunde, Vol. 12, pp. 67-69 (1844); and in the Berg- und Hüttenmännische Zeitung, Vol. 3, No. 13, pp. 284-286 (1844).

Ueber das Vorkommen des Pyrops in Böhmen [On the Occurrence of Pyrope in Bohemia], A.E. Reuss, Archiv für Mineralogie, Geognosie, Bergbau und Hüttenkunde, Vol. 11, pp. 298-314 (1838).  The author describes the pyrope occurrence.  This article is summarised in the Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie, Geognosie, Geologie und Petrefaktenkunde, Vol. 7, pp. 97-100 (1839).

Pyropenlager von Meronitz [Pyrope Deposits at Meronitz], A.E. Reuss, Geognostische Skizzen aus Böhmen, Vol. 1, pp. 155-161 (1844).  The garnet deposits near this town are described.  Another article on this deposit by the same author entitled Der Pyrop von Meronitz und seine Begleiter [The Pyrope of Meronitz and its Companions]appeared in Lotos, Vol. 2, pp. 214-223 (1852)

Die Granatenindustrie zu Waldkirch [The Garnet Industry in Waldkirch], J. Betz, Badisches Centralblatt für Staats- und Gemeinde-Interessen, Vol. 5, pp. 85-87 (1859). The polishing of Bohemian garnets in the town of Waldkirch is described.

Die Bearbeitung der Granaten im Schwarzwald [The Working of Garnets in the Black Forest], F.A. Walchner, Westermann’s Jahrbuch, Vol. 11, No. 63, pp. 336-342 (1861).  The author describes the manufacturing of gem garnets found in south-eastern Germany and Bohemia.

Diamant-Entdeckung in den Böhmischen Pyrop-Lagerstätten [Diamond Discovery in the Bohemian Pyrope Deposit], Unknown author, Das Ausland, Vol. 43, No. 7, pp. 166-167 (1870). A brief report on the discovery of diamonds in the pyrope locality.

Ueber das Muttergestein der Böhmischen Pyropen [The Mother Rock of the Bohemian Pyrope], C. Doelter, Tschermak’s Mineralogische Mittheilungen, No. 1, pp. 13-18 (1873). The author identifies the source rock of the pyrope garnet as serpentine; today the rock is recognised as an altered (serpentinised) peridotite, an olivine-rich rock that originates in the earth’s mantle.

Die Granatenschleiferei im Breisgau [Garnet Polishing in Breisgau], O. von Eisengrein, Jahresheft des Breisgau-Geschichtsvereins Schauinsland, Vol. 5, pp. 29-36 (1878).  The garnet polishing industry in the town of Breisgau in Baden is described.

O Horninách Pyrop Sprovázejícíh v Čéske Středohoří [On Pyrope and Associated Minerals of the Bohemian Central Highlands], C. Zahálka, Sitzungsberichte der Koniglich-Bohmischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften in Prag,pp. 461-475 (1884).  A description of the pyrope occurrences is provided.

Böhmische Granaten [Bohemian Garnets], T. Gampe, Die Gartenlaube, Vol. 41, No. 7, pp. 107-110 (1893).  The author discusses the pyrope mining and manufacturing industry in Bohemia.

Bohemian Garnets, G.F. Kunz, Transactions of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, Vol. 21, pp. 241-250 (1893).  The garnet-producing district near Prague is described.

Bohemian Garnets, J.B. Hawes, Reports from the Consuls of the United States, Vol. 42, No. 153, pp. 205-207 (1893).  A brief report is given by the consul in Prague of the situation for mining and manufacturing gem garnets.  This report is summarised in the Journal of the Society of Arts, Vol. 41, No. 2127, pp. 875-876 (1893).

Edelsteinkunde [Precious Stones], M. Bauer, C.H. Tauchnitz, Leipzig (1896).  This gemmological textbook contains a section on Bohemian pyrope on pages 405-409.

Die Böhmischen Granatlagerstätten und die Edelsteinseife des Sufzergründels bei Hinterhermsdorf in Sachsen [The Bohemian Garnet Deposit Sites and the Gemstone Alluvial Deposits of the Sufzergründel near Hinterhermsdorf in Saxony], H. Oehmichen, Zeitschrift für Praktische Geologie, Vol. 8 (January), pp. 1-17 (1900). The author provides a detailed description of the Bohemian garnet occurrences, and of the alluvial gem deposits in neighbouring Saxony.

Chemische und Mineralogische Studien am Granat [Chemical and Mineralogical Studies of Garnets], M. Seebach, Karl Rössler Buckdruckerei, Heidelberg (1906).  This book contains a chapter on pages 30-37 on Bohemian pyrope.

Die Granatschleiferei in Harmersbach und Waldkirch [Garnet Polishing in Harmersbach and Waldkirch], K. Bittmann, Hausindustrie und Heimarbeit im Grossherzogtum Baden zu Aufang des XX Jahrhunderts, pp. 7-19 (1907).  In the 19thcentury, Bohemian garnets were polished for jewellery purposes in various locations including in these two towns in the Baden region of Germany.

Mineralogische Skizzen – Böhmische Granaten [Mineralogical Sketches – Bohemian Garnet], W. Peiter, Aus der Heimat, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 17-18 (1909). A brief description is given of the garnet occurrences.

Die “Böhmischen” Granaten [Bohemian Garnets], B.R. Müller, Wirtschafts-Geologie der Tschechoslowakischen Republik (1921). This book contains a short section on the garnets (pp. 142-145).

Ložiska Pyropů v Čéske Středohoří [Pyrope Localities of the Central Bohemia Highlands], L. Sýkora, Geotechnica, Vol. 14, pp. 1-16 (1952). The author reviews pyrope localities.

Bohemian Garnet – Today, J. Schlüter and W. Weitschat, Gems & Gemology, Vol. 27, No. 3, pp. 168-173 (1991). The current situation of pyrope garnet mining in the Bohemian hills is summarised.

La Bohème, Petr Korbel, Lapidary Journal, Vol. 46, No. 10, pp. 46-51 (1993). The history of garnet mining and manufacturing centred near the Bohemian city of Turnov are discussed.

Mineralogy of the Louvres Merovingian Garnet Cloisonné Jewelry: Origins of the Gems of the First Kings of France, F. Farges, American Mineralogist, Vol. 83, No. 3/4, pp. 323–330 (1998).  Based on a study and chemical analysis of early European garnet jewellery, the author identified some of the material as having come from Bohemia.

Mittelalterliche Edelsteinschleifereien in Südwestdeutschland und ihre Rohstoffe [Medieval Gemstone Lapidaries in Southwestern Germany and their Sources of Raw Materials], I. Baranyi, Carolinea, Vol. 59, pp. 15-23 (2001).  Medieval lapidary facilities for pyrope and gemstone polishing in several areas of Baden in Germany are described.

Bohemian Garnet, A.V. Seifert and S. Vrána, Bulletin of Geosciences, Vol. 80, No. 2, pp. 113-124 (2005). The authors present the results of a chemical analysis of the garnets, and they discuss the geological setting of the garnet occurrence.

Mineral inclusions in Pyrope from Garnet Peridotites, Kolín area, central Czech Republic, S. Vrána, Journal of Geosciences, Vol. 53, pp. 17-30 (2008).  A description is given of typical mineral inclusions found in Bohemian garnet.

The Fiery-Eyed Volcanoes of Bohemia, J. Kouřrimský and J. Hyršl, in H.A. Gilg and others, Editors, Garnet – Great Balls of Fire, Lithographie LLC, East Hampton, Connecticut, pp. 56-59 (2008). The authors describe the occurrence, and historic mining and manufacturing of Bohemian pyrope for jewellery use.

The History of Pyrope Extraction and Processing in the Czech Republic and Its Significance for Geotourism, M. Duraj, M. Marschalko, R. Duda, D. Sitányiová and S. Masarovičová, Procedia Earth and Planetary Science, Vol. 15, pp. 663-668 (2015). The history of pyrope extraction and manufacturing for gem purposes in Bohemia is discussed.

Dr James Shigley is a distinguished research fellow at the Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad, California.