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If You Were Born in January, Here’s Why Garnet is Your Birthstone

By: Shmukler Design

If you’re a January baby, your birthstone is the brilliant and diverse garnet gemstone. And you’re in for a treat, because there’s more to this gem than meets the eye. Garnet is known for its deep red hue, but the gem actually comes in many colors, including orange, yellow, purple and green. In addition, there are garnets that change color from blue to purple depending on the lighting.

As weve done with previous birthstone posts, below isinformation on the history of garnet, an overview of the myths associated with the stone, and our recommendations for how to care for and clean garnet.

History of Garnet

The name garnet has its origins in its famous color. It originates from the 14th century Middle English word gernet, meaning “dark red,” which came from the medieval Latin granatus, meaning “pomegranate.”

 

If you want to win a trivia contest, you should know garnet isn’t really a stone, but a group of minerals. Five minerals to be exact, and they are pyrope, almandine, spessartine, grossular, and andradite. Pyrope and almandine’s hues range from purple to red, and spessartine is found in oranges and yellows. Andradite has hues of yellow to green, and grossular holds the widest range: colorless to orangy red. One of grossular’s standout hues is a bright green called tsavorite

The garnet has been in use since the Bronze Age. The Pharaohs of ancient Egypt and the clergy and nobility of the Middle Ages all adorned themselves with garnetladenjewelry. In ancient Rome, signet rings made with carved garnets were used to stamp wax seals on important documents. The oldest piece of garnet jewelry — a necklace found in a grave in Egypt — has been dated back to 3800 BC. In addition to being the January birthstone, garnet is also a traditional second wedding anniversary gift. 

The January birthstone can be found across the world. During Victorian times, Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic) was the primary source for red garnet. In the 19th century, Russian royalty was infatuated with green garnets (of the andradite variation) found in the Ural Mountains  as was the great jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé. Today, Africa supplies most of the world’s garnet, with the United States contributing approximately 15 percent of itsglobal production. Like most other birthstones, garnet can also be found in Myanmar, Brazil, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka.

Myths of Garnet 

January is a month that signals new beginnings, so it makes sense that the January birthstone symbolizes some of the things people include in their New Year’s Resolutions. Many believe that the garnet has power to bring the wearer good health, wealth, and happiness. 

Indian astrologists maintain that garnet helps eliminate feelings of depression and guilt, as well as instill greater self-confidence and mental clarity to promote creative thinking and peace of mind. The Egyptians saw garnet as a symbol of life.

In medieval times, garnet was also believed to be a remedy for inflammatory diseases and to soothe an angry heart. Many ancient cultures used the stone as a talisman for protection both for warriors going into battle and those who wanted to ward off the bubonic plague.

Taking Care of Garnet 

Varieties of garnet range from 6.5 – 7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, which makes some of them the wrong choice for daily wear. However, Januarys birthstone is ideal for earrings, pendants, and brooches. Be careful when storing garnet, because not only will harder gems like sapphires and diamonds scratch it, but garnet can scratch softer gems, such as opals and pearls. 

Most garnets are safe in ultrasonic cleaners, except those that have fractures or have been fracture filled, so make you know everything about your garnet before cleaning it. Steam cleaning is never recommended. At Shmukler Design, a Southern California-based custom jeweler, we suggest using a soft brush and warm soapy water, which is safe for all types of garnets. 

For more information about garnet — or how to create a setting that makes them stand out and sparkle — call us at (949) 870-9915. Or use our online contact form on the Shmukler Design website.

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