What is garnet? January’s birthstone meaning is steeped in fascinating lore. If you were born in January, discover all about this stunning, deep-red gemstone in our guide below.
Origin of garnet
Garnet is a luxurious mineral which, in its crystal form, offers stunning sparkle. It comes in many colours including red, green and yellow. However, the red variety of garnet is most often used in jewellery because it is so beautiful and striking.
History and links to royalty
Garnet is a legendary precious stone. For example, in Egypt, archaeologists have discovered garnet amulets in the tombs of pharaohs. This means that already thousands of years ago, garnet was held in the highest esteem by royalty.
During the time of the Roman Empire, it was typical for noble patriarchs to have carved signet rings made from garnet. In ancient Persia, on the other hand, only the royal family was allowed to own and wear this highly valued gemstone.
Exceptional sparkle in low lighting
Red garnet usually comes in red-orange, red-brown or red-purple hues. Its sparkle is referred to as “fire” by gemmologists because it is intensely captivating to look at.
Did you know? If you want to see the garnet sparkle at its best, look at your gemstone in soft lighting. For instance, candlelight heightens the garnet’s exquisite play of light to the maximum. Not many gemstones offer their best sparkle in low lighting, and this is just one of garnet’s many magical properties.
Hardness and durability
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. To give you an idea, diamonds rate 10 on the Mohs scale, while talc scores only 1. This means that garnet is fairly durable if you handle it with care.
Where is it found?
Garnet deposits are found all over the world. However, India is one of the biggest producers and you can also find large mines in Africa, South America and Russia.
The name comes from Latin
The name “garnet” name comes from the Latin word “granatus”, meaning “seeds”. As you can see in the below images, clusters of garnet crystals resemble the red seeds inside a pomegranate. This is how garnet got its name.
Birthstone and anniversary dates
As the birthstone for January, garnet is said to bring love, luck, health, loyalty and friendship to people who are born this month. It is also the gem that married people traditionally gift on their 2nd and 18th wedding anniversary.
Legend and lore
Garnet created plenty of wonderful legends and beliefs in the past. For instance, in ancient Rome, people believed garnet protected travellers. If it sparkled, it was a warning of approaching danger. The ancient Chinese, on the other hand, thought the red gems represented tigers’ souls that had transformed into precious gems after death. On the other side of the world, the Navajo tribe in what is now Utah in the USA, used the gems as adornments to bring luck and protection.
The Princess of Wales’ birthday ring
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. Why? Because garnet is the Duchess’ birthstone (she was born in January), while pearl is Prince William’s birthstone (born in June).
A special January birthstone jewellery gift
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
Because it naturally occurs as big, clear crystals, it’s a great choice for showstopping statement jewellery pieces. If this is your loved one’s birthstone, it will make a thoughtful gift for birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Mother’s Day or Valentine’s.
Shop Garnet Birthstone Jewellery
Beautiful deep red garnet jewellery for January babes