Garnet Birthstone Origins & History
Those born in January, under the Capricorn and Aquarius zodiac signs, are lucky to have the beautiful and diverse garnet as their birthstone. Garnet is also the stone that celebrates the 2nd marriage anniversary.
Garnets are commonly red but also come in an extraordinary range of beautiful colours, including orange, yellow, purple and vibrant green. This range of colours come from it’s diverse forms of chemical composition, the January birthstone being formulated from a group of silicate minerals like Pyrope, Almandine, Spessartine, Grossular, and Andradite minerals. However, the red variety of garnet is most often used in jewellery because it is so strikingly beautiful.
When it comes to Garnet’s popularity, this stone has been around since the Bronze Age as gemstones and abrasives. But as jewellery we can note necklaces studded with red garnets that adorned the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Signet rings in ancient Rome featured garnet engravings that were used to stamp the wax which secured important documents and corespondence. And the clergy and nobility of the Middle Ages also had a preference for red garnets.
The famous Antique Pyrope Hair Comb currently residing in the Smithsonian Museum
Victorian almandine garnet brooch
Garnet the January Birthstone Origins & History
The name “garnet” originates from the medieval Latin granatus, meaning “seeds” in reference to the lively red colour of the pomegranate’s seeds that resemble the january birthstone.
Garnets come from many different regions and countries. Bohemia (modern day Czech Republic) was the historical primary source of the red pyrope garnets so popular during Victorian times. Today, the African continent supplies much of the world’s garnet. The countries where the gem can be most frequently found include: Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, and Namibia. Other countries where the Garnet has a presence are Myanmar, Brazil, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka.
One of the most famous pieces of Garnet jewellery must be the Antique Pyrope Hair Comb currently residing in the Smithsonian Museum. The term Pyrope has greek origins that means “fiery-eyed,” which adequately represents this January birthstone.
Colourful tourmalin from Sapo Mine, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Antique Bohemian red rose cut garnets
Garnet's Special Properties
Because Garnet incompases such a large group of silicate minerals it’s light transmission properties can range from the gemstone-quality transparent specimens to the opaque varieties used for industrial purposes. The mineral’s luster is categorized as vitreous (glass-like) or resinous (amber-like).
Because the chemical composition of garnet varies, the atomic bonds in some species are stronger than in others. That is why Garnet ranks 6.5 – 7.5 out of 10 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. Therefore it is considered a gemstone of medium hardness.
If you want to see the garnet sparkle at its best, look at your gemstone in soft lighting. Not many gemstones offer their best sparkle in low lighting, and this is just one of garnet’s many magical properties.
How valuable is Garnet?
Garnet has a variety of species which also comes with a variety of prices. The price of these loose gemstones depends on several factors such as cut, clarity and shape. The January Birthstone includes affordable dark red varieties, rare and valuable greens, and many colors in between.
Red garnet is one of the most common and widespread of gems so it is more affordable. But not all garnets are as abundant as the red ones. A green garnet, tsavorite, is rarer and needs rarer rock chemistries and conditions to form. Also, horsetail inclusions in green demantoid garnet are one of the few internal features that increase a gem’s value. They tend to range from around £400 a carat with inclusions, up to around £5500 per carat for the larger, clean stones like demantoid garnet.
Garnet gemstone in low light
January Birthstone Meaning, Symbolism and Folklore
Garnet created plenty of wonderful legends and beliefs in the past. For instance, according to Indian astrology garnet helps eliminate negative feelings like depression or guilt and can instill greater self-confidence and mental clarity to promote creative thinking and peace of mind.
In ancient Rome, people believed garnet protected travellers. If it sparkled, it was a warning of approaching danger. Also in ancient and medieval times, gems like garnet were also thought to be remedies for inflammatory diseases and to soothe the angry heart.
The ancient Chinese, on the other hand, thought the red gems represented tigers’ souls that had transformed into precious gems after death.
January is the month where Capricorn and Aquarius zodiac signs come to play. For many, this is also the post-holiday come down period where the world is slightly more quiet. So, the beautiful garnet is the perfect pick me up because it finds your motivation and lights your energy spark. It draws determination and escorts you through the dark. So when in times of weakness, or feeling a little low, the essence of the Garnet will help you find your glow.
Buying & Gifting January Birthstone Jewellery
Red garnet is an exquisitely sparkling, beautiful gemstone that’s pleasing to gaze at. It’s also a fairly affordable gem compared to other red stones like ruby or pink tourmaline. So it’s a fantastic way to start a gemstone jewellery collection and it will make a thoughtful gift for birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Mother’s Day or Valentine’s. Checkout below our January birthstone jewellery for you and your loved ones.
Whether you’re shopping for the right January birthstone jewellery, or a gemstone to celebrate your 2nd wedding anniversary, the Garnet is also a wonderful choice to lift your spirits and boost your confidence in spite of the post-holiday blues.