January Birthstone: Garnet


January’s birthstone is a wonderful colored gem called Garnet. Due to its relative abundance compared to other precious stones, garnet jewels are significantly more affordable and make great gifts. It is said that it is the number one choice for anniversaries.

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Garnet name meaning

Its name comes from “granatus”, the roman word for “seed”. This association was made because some garnet varieties look strikingly similar to pomegranate seeds.

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Varieties of Garnet Gemstones

Garnets come in numerous colors and varieties. Red garnets were the most commonly used gemstones in the Late Antique Roman world, and the Migration Period art of the “barbarian” peoples who took over the territory of the Western Roman Empire. Some garnets are truly unique in the mineral kingdom and have much to offer as both gemstones and mineral specimens.

There are more than 17 different varieties of garnet:

  1. Almandine Garnet
  2. Andradite Garnet
  3. Color-Change Garnet
  4. Demantoid Garnet
  5. Grossularite Garnet
  6. Hessonite Garnet
  7. Hydrogrossular Garnet
  8. Leuco Garnet
  9. Mali Garnet
  10. Melanite Garnet
  11. Pyrope Garnet
  12. Rhodolite Garnet
  13. Spessartite Garnet
  14. Star Garnet
  15. Topazolite Garnet
  16. Tsavorite Garnet
  17. Uvarovite Garnet

There are two garnet species of greater importantance:


The hydrogrossular garnet, is better known as “Transvaal Jade” because it is often used as a cheaper substitute for jade. It looks like a green jade with small black spots. In medieval times, this species was hung by mothers above a child’s bed because it was said to make sweet dreams and also calm and protect him from emotional stress.


The rhodolite garnet is the most transparent of all. The pink makes it look very similar to the pink sapphire. One legend says that it helps cure broken hearts and create romantic circumstances.

january birthstone garnet

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Garnet Healing Properties

The January birthstone is said to possess many extraordinary capabilities. These have changed over time because of the fascination people had for these gems. Up until the 18th century, many soldiers wore garnets to heal their wounds. The red varieties, which can show as much fire as the rubies, were thought to influence the way blood flows inside the body. Garnet inspires love and devotion and alleviates emotional disharmony. The orange, yellow and green gems helped increase sexual capability and energy.

It was also said that garnets changed color when the bearer was facing danger. They promote love and protect the house from fire and lightening. Legend has it that Noah used a large garnet to light his ark.

The use of the Garnet as a gem began with the ancient Egyptians, and have been found in tombs of the Pharoahs.
Garnet has been thought to protect oneself from demons and bad dreams while others believe Garnet is a healing stone. And, of course, the heart is one body part thought to be healed by Garnet. Also, during the latter part of the 19th century, Garnet brooches and bracelets were particularly popular.

january birthstone garnet

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Garnet hardness

The hardness of Garnet ranges from 6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale, which makes them suitable as abrasives. There are various colors of Garnet ranging from colorless to black, and many shades of red and green.

The green Garnet has been highly prized by Russian Czars and is the most rare and valuable of all Garnets.
Rhodolite Garnet is a purply red while natural Garnet is more of a blood red. Garnets can be found in New York, Maine, and Idaho. Notable quantities have also been produced in Australia, China, and India.

This gemstone is formed over millions of years at very high temperatures and enormous pressures in the Earth’s crust. For this reason, the garnet is very though. However, it can still be damaged if you are not careful.

Make sure you do not expose your gem to sudden temperature changes, hot steam or acids. To clean it, use warm water or ultrasounds at a specialized atelier.

1 Comment
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