IF you were born in January, then garnet is your birthstone. Garnet birthstones are said to bring you luck, love and health.
But what’s the meaning behind garnet? What is it made of? Where does it come from? Find out all about this fascinating, fiery gemstone below.
Myth, history and lore
Garnet is a legendary and royal precious stone. In Egypt, archaeologists have discovered garnet amulets in the tombs of pharaohs. In Rome, it was typical for noble patriarchs to have carved signet rings made from garnet. They’d use these to stamp the wax seals on important letters and documents. The ancient Persians only allowed their kings to own and wear garnets.
As the birthstone for January, garnet is said to inspire love, passion, loyalty and friendship. Its fiery sparkle and symbolism make it a perfect gift for January birthdays and romantic occasions like Valentine’s Day. It is also the gem traditionally gifted on 2nd and 18th wedding anniversaries.
Garnet myths from around the world:
♦ During the time of the Roman Empire, many believed that garnets could protect travellers. If a garnet glinted and sparkled, it was as a warning of approaching danger.
♦ The Chinese said the red garnet represented a tiger’s soul, having transformed into a precious gem after the animal’s death.
♦ The Navajo Indians in Utah, USA, also used garnets as adornments that could bring luck and protection.
What colour is it?
Garnets are formed from not just one, but many different kinds of silicate minerals. That’s why they occur naturally in a range of colours, although the best known variety is red garnet. Red garnet usually comes in red-orange, red-brown or purple hues. Garnets are known for their captivating sparkle, referred to as “fire”. This effect is at its best in soft lighting, like candles.
How hard is garnet?
Garnet ranks 6.5 – 7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness. To give you an idea, diamonds rate 10 and talc only scores 1. Although garnet is fairly durable, it is a crystal and should always be handled with care. Avoid knocks and store it away from harder gems that could scratch it.
Why the name?
The gemstone’s name comes from the Latin word “granatus”, meaning “seeds”. Clusters of garnet crystals resemble the red seeds inside a pomegranate. Here you can see pomegranate seeds on the left and garnet crystals on the right.
Where is it found?
Garnet deposits are found all over the world. Some of the biggest mines are in India, Africa, South America and Russia.
Celebrity birthstone garnets
Before she got engaged to Prince William, Catherine Middleton often wore a pearl and garnet gold ring. The press frequently speculated whether it was a gift from Prince William. Garnet is the Duchess’ birthstone, born on 8th January.
Buying garnet jewellery
Red garnet is a very affordable and beautiful gem. It naturally occurs as big, clear crystals. Its the perfect choice for large, showstopping jewellery pieces. If garnet is your birthstone, it will always hold special significance for you. For that reason alone, it’s worth including in your jewellery collection.