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January Birthstone: Garnet

Michael Fried
Michael Fried
January Birthstone Garnet Ring

What Is The Birthstone For January?

The birthstone for January birthdays is Garnet. Garnets are stunning gemstones that can be placed in pendants, earrings, rings, and more. The color for January’s birthstone is red, ranging from soft hues to vibrant tones. While garnets come in a variety of colors, red is recognized as the January birthstone.

Garnet Birthstone

Heart-Shaped Garnet and Diamond Pendant
Heart-Shaped Garnet and Diamond Pendant from Blue Nile

Garnet Symbolism and Meaning

The meaning of the garnet birthstone is power. Garnet symbolizes good fortune and strength to those who wear it.

Over the centuries, garnets have adorned jewelry and battle garb throughout the world. Referred to as the “Gem of Faith,” garnets are thought to bring good fortune to those who do good while wearing the stone, and bad fortune to those who do bad. Ancient Egyptians saw the garnet as a symbol of life, and Romans held them in high regard—using them as signet rings—during the 3rd and 4th centuries. In Victorian times, royals adorned themselves with small garnets, forming large statement pieces.

Among other qualities, garnets are believed to ward off nightmares, protect travelers, help foster positive relationships, and bring truth and peace to those who surround themselves with the stone.

Garnet Color

The color of the garnet birthstone is red, ranging from soft red tones to rich, vibrant hues. Made of silicate minerals, garnet is available in a range of colors—though red garnet is most popular and is recognized as January’s birthstone.

The garnet gemstone comes rightly by its name. Stemming from the Latin word for seed, “granatum”, the stone resembles the lush red color of pomegranate seeds. In the 14th century, the word “gernet” meant dark red, which appropriately describes the garnet’s rich appearance.

The January birthstone ranks a 6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, which is still durable but not as tough as other stones. For everyday wear, consider a pendant or set of earrings, while a ring and a bracelet can be worn for special occasions and festivities. If well taken care of, garnets can last for many generations. Jewelry pieces adorned with garnets have even lasted from the Bronze Age (3000-2400 B.C.) to present day.

January Birthstone Garnet on the Mohs Scale

Garnet Versus Ruby

Since the most common variety of garnet happens to come in a deep red color, many may mistake the January birthstone for a ruby. Rubies, however, are much more valuable than garnets but there are a couple of ways you can tell them apart.

You will first want to examine the color of the gemstone when it is held against a light source. If you see a reflection of yellow and green, then the gemstone you are examining is most likely going to be a garnet. However, if you see reflections of blue and red, then it’s likely a ruby.

You can also examine the refraction of the gemstone. Ruby is a double refractive gemstone while garnet is only a single refractive.

Garnet Round Rope Bracelet
Garnet Round Rope Bracelet

Caring for Garnet Birthstone Jewelry

Garnets are more durable than some gemstones such as turquoise or opal, but less durable than diamonds. To clean your January birthstone jewelry, all you need to do is gently wipe the jewelry down with warm soapy water. As with other gemstones, steam cleaning is not recommended. Allow your garnet jewelry to dry completely before storing it in a soft cloth or padded container.

Where Is Garnet Found?

Records indicate that garnet was initially discovered as far back as 3100 B.C.—most likely in Egypt. In the 16th century, large red garnet deposits were uncovered in Central Europe. Garnet deposit sites are now prevalent in places like the Czech Republic, Greece, Madagascar, Tanzania, Russia, India, Sri Lanka and the United States.

Different than other stones that are mined underground, garnets can often be found above ground near water sources, where the metamorphic rocks they once inhabited have weathered away.

Purchasing Garnet Birthstone Jewelry

When shopping around for January birthstone jewelry, you’ll quickly discover that Almandine is the most common garnet gemstone available. It has a deep red color and can come in a variety of sizes with a range of differently colored hues. This particular gemstone is between a 7 and 7.5 on the hardness scale.

Rose Gold Garnet And Diamond Studded Beaded Halo Ring
Rose Gold Garnet And Diamond Studded Beaded Halo Ring

Another sought-after garnet gemstone is the Andradite because of its light dispersion that far exceeds that of a diamond.

Demantoid is one of the most valuable garnet varieties and has brilliant green hues because of its chromium content. It also showcases high light dispersion that some people love. If there happens to be even the slightest hint of a yellow hue, however, the value of the garnet begins to lower.

You should also keep in mind that these are just a few of the most common garnet varieties and several others can be used to make birthstone jewelry. When most people think of a garnet, their mind will typically wander to the gemstone with a very ruby-like appearance.

When you begin to evaluate a garnet, first note the color of the gemstone because it is the most important factor that determines its value and beauty. Garnets that are redder and more vivid in color are valued much higher than other varieties.

These January birthstones will come in standard shapes and cuts which make them the perfect gemstone for jewelry pieces.

Fun Facts

  • Records indicate that a Roman engraver carved a portrait of Plato on a garnet.
  • In India’s Kashmir region, the Hunza people used garnet bullets to battle the British, believing garnets were more forceful than lead.
  • The largest garnet is said to have been found in Norway, weighing in at over 35,000 kilograms.
  • Celebrities like Kate Beckinsale have been seen on the red carpet wearing garnet jewelry.
  • In addition to being the birthstone of January, garnet is often given as a second wedding anniversary gift.

Gift Ideas

Kick off the year with a vibrant start when celebrating a January birthday, or gift a garnet as a special gift during another season. Ranging in style and shape, garnets offer plenty of options for that special someone.

The January birthstone offers a very stylish, yet minimalistic, approach to any outfit and is best when paired with white or yellow gold. Rose gold, while beautiful, can deter from the garnet’s red color.

If you’re considering a garnet for an engagement ring, you may want to reconsider because of how soft this gemstone is. It could easily become chipped, broken or damaged if not taken care of.

Consider this pair of garnet stud earrings from James Allen or these sophisticated halo earrings from Blue Nile instead.

If you’re looking for a different earring style, choose these unique flowery drop earrings from James Allen.

To surprise your loved one with a stunning red ring, decide between a simple solitaire like this one from Leibish & Co. or a halo setting like this ring from Blue Nile.

When it comes to necklaces, you have plenty of options:

For bracelets, check out this line oval garnet band on James Allen and this more simple garnet stationed bezel bracelet on Blue Nile.

Enjoy the process of choosing your special garnet piece: it will likely be passed down for generations.

Also, read more about birthstones:

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