Garnet is a beautiful stone that comes in quite the range of colors. Large garnet gems, whicle not approaching diamonds or rubies in price, can make your wallet take a deep breath. The red garnet is the one used for the January Birthstone, but any piece of fine garnet will look great in the right setting.
Some shops sell garnets in hand-formed silver, which makes for a very attractive setting at a decent price. You can also find garnets set in rings, earrings, bracelets, etc., in some very attractive settings ranging from very affordable to expensive (such as these 14K Garnet & Diamond Earrings) to the slightly more breathtaking.
Depending on the tradition birthstones can vary in significance and importance. In the modern jewelers tradition, they're simply beautiful gems. In more ancient traditions they have special powers and mean special things.
The healing powers of the Garnet: Facilitates night vision, ensures success, and provides guidance, protection, purification, and warmth. The ancient Egyptions beleives that garnets could purify the body of various types of toxins. Different colors of garnets will have slightly different properties.
Not only is Garnet a fine stone for crystal healing purposes, as well as the birthstone for the month of January, but it isalso the traditional anniversary gemstone for the second year of marriage.
Archaeologists have found primitive garnet jewelry among the graves of lake dwellers which dates the use of this popular gemstone to the Bronze age. Today they are mined in Brazil, India, Madagascar, India, Siberia, Africa, Sri Lanka, and the United States.
Not all garnets are of gem quality. "Raw" garnets make a very effective abrasive and used commercially for grinding and polishing. Believe it or not, garnet-coated sandpaper is popular for industrial use.
Color Me Beautiful
Garnets are extremely diverse and offer enough variety in appearance (and color) to suit every taste. Although you may think of garnet as a red gem, the truth is that the garnet family of gemstones comes in a broad spectrum of colors, except blue.
Garnets of muted yellows, vibrant oranges, rosy pinks, lime greens, and violets are all part this gemstone's rainbow of hues. The diversity is due to unique combinations of elements within each particular gem, such as iron, calcium, and manganese.
What's In A Name?
Look at the seeds of a pomegranate and you'll immediately understand how the word "garnet" was derived from the Latin word "granatus," meaning "grain" or "seed." Garnet is thought to have earned its name because of its close resemblance to the succulent red pomegranate seed!
But don't bite into a garnet! Like a diamond, a garnet is strong. It has a Moh's scale hardness 6.5 to 7.5… not the hardest of gems, by far, but definitely not tooth-friendly.
A Greek myth tells the story of Peresphone, the young goddess of sunshine, who was abducted by Hades, god of the underworld. The devil eventually released her, but not before he offered her some pomegranate seeds, which she ate and which guaranteed her return to him. Thus garnets have come to represent fidelity and commitment.
From the reading above you'll see that the garnet is surrounded in myths, legends and traditions.
It is believed to be one of the 12 gemstones in Aaron's breastplate in the Hebrew tradition. The Christians consider it is symbolic of Christ's sacrifice and the blood of their savior. Many faiths claim that Noah hung a large red garnet in the ark for illumination. In the Koran, garnets are believed to illuminate the Fourth Heaven of the Moslems.
Various other powers and legends surround the garnet that are not mentioned above. For example, it is reputed to have warming tendencies which will aid in any treatment where warmth is suggested, such as frostbite or joint aches.
A Brief Guide to January Birthstones
Garnet is the January birthstone. Garnet is said to give the wearer victory, chastity, truth and fidelity. Garnet's use in jewelry began with the ancient Egyptians and possibly even earlier. This blood red gemstone is perfect to brighten up the day during winter.
The garnet gemstone comes in variety of colors, not just red. The garnet variety chrome pyrope is a lovely red color that is like ruby. Pyrope garnet has the deep red color that most of us are familar with. Almandine garnet is a dark purple red. Demantoid garnet is a bright green color. The most sought after color of garnet is the tsavorite variety which is a gorgeous bright green. Rhodolite garnet is also prized for its bright red color with firey flashes. Hessonite garnet is orange-brown. Mandarin garnet is the rarest garnet and is bright orange.
A birthday in January means a celebration of new life along with the new year. Of course, the month is usually cold, and, depending where you live, fraught with snow. But this can make the January birthday a magical time. The January flower is the carnation and the month is home to the holidays of New Year’s Day and Martin Luther King’s birthday. And speaking of birthdays, here are the birthstones of January and what they symbolize.
January Modern and Traditional Birthstone: Garnet
The name “garnet” comes from the Latin word for “grain”, and you can see why if you take a close look at any of your garnet jewelry. Though most, if not all, garnet jewelry is red in color, the garnet in nature can come in a wide spectrum of colors, most notably bright green. Legends and stories surround the January birthstone just as they do all manner of gems. It has been passed down that the bright reflective quality of the garnet is so powerful that Noah used one to guide the Biblical Ark through the rough seas following the flooding of the Earth. Of course, aside from myth and legend and Biblical tales, the garnet is in itself a beautiful gem. The garnet is known as the traveler’s gem, perhaps dating back to the legends about Noah. For this reason, the garnet has always been thought of as a fine gift for those going on a journey, keeping it with them to ensure a safe return back to their loved ones. For this reason and others, the garnet makes not only a perfect gift for the January birthday, but for anyone at any time of year that wants a piece of sparkling red jewelry in their collection.
January Alternative Birthstone: Rose Quartz
Rose quartz is one of the most sought after and admired of the quartzes. It has this reputation through its smoky pink coloring, which lends it a particularly lovely hue, and sets perfectly into jewelry of various kinds. They can be found most often in pendants to be hung from the neck in a necklace, though they have been seen and sold as rings, bracelets, and even earrings.