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Garnet - The JANUARY Birthstone
Garnet, the January birthstone, is a gemstone recognised for rich, deep red colour – although many people are surprised to discover that this stone comes in many colours, including orange, pink, purple and can even appear black. Garnet also appears in a brilliant green colour.
Some months have two or three birthstones associated with the month but January has only one. However, January does have two birth month flowers associated with it. Garnet is a lovely birthday gift to give somebody if their birthday is in January.
As well as being one of the birthstones, garnet jewellery is also used to celebrate the 2nd Wedding Anniversary.
Said to be the “traveller’s stone”, the story goes that Noah’s Ark carried a garnet lantern to help lead the way in the dark.
Hence, some like to carry a garnet worry stone or tumblestone with them, and this could make a lovely gift for someone who is travelling.
Garnet gemstones are inexpensive and, consequently, can be found in many pieces of modern jewellery. It is often a good, cheaper alternative to rubies.
This gem has stood the test of time and has been used from ancient and medieval times, was hugely popular during the Victorian era and remains a popular gem in modern times.
Garnet is a type of mineral called silicate and is composed of various elements including aluminium, calcium and iron.
Garnet measures 6.5 – 7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale which is more than adequately hard to wear as jewellery although it is not as hard as other gemstones like diamond or emerald.
For this reason, you should store your garnets separately to your harder semi-precious or precious stones or, better still, keep your garnet jewellery in a separate little bag within your jewellery box.
A garnet ring should be removed every evening and you should refrain from doing manual work whilst wearing it (the rule of which should really apply to any gemstone ring!). We have advice on how to clean your garnet ring here.
Therefore, garnets, the birthstone of January, are perfect for daily wear in earrings, brooches, necklaces and pendants – like this lovely silver and Welsh gold garnet pendant below. Garnet rings can be worn either occasionally or everyday with care.to bla
GARNET STONE COLOURS
Whilst most commonly red or brownish-red, most garnet gemstones can also appear as reddish-orange, pink, violet, yellow-brown and even bright green in colour.
This gem is opaque, but the rarer and green varieties are quite brilliant.
types of garnet
Pyrope garnets are the most well-known and used. They are easily recognisable as they have a rich, deep red colour that the January birthstone is most recognised for. These garnets are often mistaken for ruby, although ruby is a brighter red.
We have a separate article here on spotting the difference between these gems and rubies.
Rhodolite is a brighter, pinker red, with a purple hue, with some being almost violet in colour. These garnets consist of pyrope and almandine garnet.
Hessonite is an orange/brown/honey-yellow colour and is a form of grossularite. The stone also contains amber-like inclusions.
Andradite is another rare form of garnet, it rivals diamond for its brilliance. Demantoid garnet, a type of Andradite, is the rarest form of garnet is one of the beautiful, brilliant green gemstones.
This gemstone is very reflective and is more brilliant than a sapphire. The demantoid garnet may be one of the rarest gemstones today. Originally mined in Russia, is has since been found in Namibia and Madagascar.
Grossular garnets are not very often red or even dark, but can appear in lots of different colours, apart from blue.
Tsavorite garnet appears as an emerald green colour.
Colour-change garnets are very rare and a fairly new discovery. The colour changes from bronze-brown to rose-pink under certain light conditions.
What is the Best Type of Garnet?
There isn’t a type of garnet that is better than the others although people favour pyrope, with its rich, red colour and the brighter hues of rhodolite.
The autumnal shades of hessonite is also a favourite.
As with all rare gemstones, the scarcity of demantoid makes it a sought-after.
The most seen and recognised of these gemstones is Pyrope and Hessonite garnets.
The Chemical Composition of Different Types of Garnet
|Spessartine||Orange, Red, Brown||6.5-7.5||Mn3AI2(SiO4)3|
|Grossular||Green, Yellow, Red, Pink, Clear||6.5-7.5||Ca3AI2(SiO4)3|
Many gemstones are heat-treated to enhance their colour, although this is not the case with the garnet gem. Considering its depth of colour it is a surprise.
Where is Garnet Found?
Garnet is found mainly in Africa, particularly Namibia.
Czechoslovakia was a large producer of garnets in the past. Mozambique, Madagascar and Russia are countries in which garnet is now mined.
HISTORY OF GARNET
This stone has been used and loved since ancient times, long before it was used as a birthstone.
The word “garnet” originates from the latin word ‘granatus’ meaning pomegranate and you can see how these precious red gems resemble the pomegranate seed.
Ancient Greeks used this gem and Garnet jewellery has appeared since medieval times. Signet rings were often set with carved garnets and used to stamp initials into a wax seal – a persons calling card or signature as it were.
Since the middle ages, noble men and the clergy had a love of these red gems, particularly set into their rings.
The Victorians loved the red colour of these gems and many beautiful pieces of jewellery were created during the Victorian period using garnet. This included the famous Pyrope Garnet Hair Comb which is now on show at the Smithsonian museum.
TYPES OF GARNET JEWELLERY
The hardness of garnet (6.5-7.5 on the Moh’s scale) mean, whilst it’s not a soft stone, there are harder gems which make better choices to wear as an everyday ring.
A ring that is worn daily will need to withstand a variety of temperatures, everyday knocks and chemicals – however careful we are when we wear it. This is why garnet is probably not the best choice as an everyday ring.
If you are after a red-gemstone ring, ruby may be the better choice.
how to care for your garnets
As already mentioned, take care to store these gemstones separately from harder stones like diamonds or from softer gemstones like pearls.
To clean use a very soft brush (a soft make-up brush is ideal) in warm, soapy water.
We don’t advise the use of an ultrasonic cleaner as there may be filled fractures on the stone and this would dislodge the filling.
We have a separate article on how to clean your garnet ring here, if you are interested.
JANUARY BIRTHSTONE MEANING
You may be wondering what this birthstones meaning is.
We have mentioned these stones being named after the pomegranate seed. The mythical story of Persephone and how she was tricked by Hades, the God of the Underworld, into eating the seeds from the pomegranate fruit thereby binding her to him.
But her courage and resilience won through when she eventually persuaded him to release her for part of the year to visit her mother – bringing rise to the seasons.
Her triumph against being in middle of her mother’s and Hades demands and scheming to keep her with them, is a myth which is loved and has touched people.
HEALING PROPERTIES OF GARNET
For the reason, perhaps, garnets are associated with strength, for resilience and hope when all seems lost as well as creative thinking.
Garnet was used in times past to treat haemorrhage and inflammation (which we don’t recommend!), as well as anger. It was believed to help depression and break bonds that keep us to old thought-patterns. It was believed that it could help with an angry heart.
Garnet is said to help self-confidence and calm negative feelings around guilt and anger.
These gems have been carried to promote successful business.
Garnet Gemstone Chakra
The red colour of this stone is associated with the root chakra which is about our personal power, perseverance and sexuality, along with material success and sustenance.
To sum up…
We love the deep, dark red colour of garnets, the January birthstone. These gemstones remind us of the dark winter berries in a bleak winter, jewels of red whilst all around is bare.
Whilst not as popular all the year around as are other birthstones like the February birthstones, amethyst, we think that garnets deserve to be appreciated more than they are.
The green varieties of garnet are quite stunning.
What do you think? Do you have the garnet as your birthstone? If so, do you like it? We’d love to hear what you think.