The Diamond Pro

January Birthstone: Garnet

By Michael Fried
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January Birthstone Garnet Ring

If you were born in the month of January, then you would be able to adorn the January birthstone garnet. With so many garnet varieties, you are sure to find something you love, and at a price, you can afford.

Garnet Symbolism and Meaning

The garnet gemstone comes rightly by its name. Stemming from the Latin word for seed, “granatum”, January’s birthstone 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.

Perhaps because of its distinct hue, legend tells us that garnet holds plenty of power. 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

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 gem still offers variety and personalization, as species of red garnets span from soft tones all the way to deep, rich hues.

Their durability ranks a 6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, which is still durable not but as tough as other stones. For everyday wear, consider a pendant or set of earrings, while rings and bracelets 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

Purchasing Garnet Birthstone Jewelry

When shopping around for garnet birthstone jewelry, you will quickly discover that Almandine is the most common garnet gemstone that is 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.

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 people love. If there happens to be even the slightest hint of a yellow hue, however, the value of this garnet begins to lower in value.

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 you wish to purchase, you will first note the color of the gemstone because it is one of the single most important factors that will determine the value of the gemstone. The garnets that are redder and more vivid in color happen to be valued much higher than other varieties.

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

Garnet Versus Ruby

Since the most common variety of garnet happens to come in a deep red color, many may mistake this gemstone 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 you will have a ruby.

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

Caring for Garnet Birthstone Jewelry

Garnets are typically a harder gemstone which makes them a bit more durable than some other gemstones such as turquoise or opal. To clean your garnet 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.

Garnet Origins

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.

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.

Garnets offer a very stylish, yet minimalistic, approach to any outfit or occasion and are best when paired with sterling silver. However, traditional gold will offer a sophisticated and classic appearance. The metal you may want to avoid when using garnets for jewelry is rose gold because it will not do this gemstone any real favors.

If you are 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 or these sophisticated drop earrings.

If you’re looking for a different earring style, choose garnet studs with halo settings or this set of hoops.

To surprise your loved one with a stunning red ring, decide between a cushion cocktail, a halo setting or this unique rectangular design.

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

For bracelets, check out this three-rowed garnet band and this more simple option with oval garnets.

Enjoy the process of choosing your special garnet piece: it will likely be passed down for generations. Also check out December’s tanzanite and February’s amethyst birthstones.

About the author
Mike learned the diamond business from the ground-up at Leo Schachter Diamonds - one of the world's top diamond manufacturers. He has been recognized as a diamond industry expert by Time, PeopleMoney, The Daily Mirror, NerdWallet, The Times Herald, Yahoo Finance Australia, The Art of Charm, The Washington Diplomat, The Next Web, and more. See more
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