What is Garnet? January’s Birthstone Meaning

What is garnet? January’s birthstone meaning is steeped in exciting legend and lore. If you were born in January, discover all about this stunning, deep red gemstone below.

1. Origin

What is garnet? It is a silicate mineral which, in its crystal form, looks beautiful and sparkling.

It actually comes in many colours including red, green and yellow.

However, because the red variety of garnet is so beautiful and striking, it is the one most often used in jewellery.

10 Reasons to love garnet jewellery January's birthstone

2. History and links to royalty

This sparkling red gem is a legendary precious stone. For example, in Egypt, archaeologists have discovered garnet amulets in the tombs of pharaohs, meaning that this gem was already held in the highest esteem thousands of years ago.

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.

3. Exceptional sparkle

Red garnet usually comes in red-orange, red-brown or red-purple hues.

Its sparkle is so intense and captivating that it is referred to as “fire” by gemmologists.

If you want to see the garnet’s 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.

What is Garnet? January's Birthstone Meaning

4. Hardness

Garnet ranks 6.5 – 7.5 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness (which ranges from 1 to 10). Therefore it is considered of medium hardness.

To give you an idea, diamonds rate 10 on the Mohs scale, while talc scores only 1. This means that while garnet is fairly durable, you should handle it with care.

Avoid knocking or catching your garnet jewellery, and always store it separately so that harder gems like diamonds don’t scratch it.

5. 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.

What is Garnet? January's Birthstone Meaning

6. 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.

What is Garnet? January's Birthstone Meaning
Pomegranate seeds on the left, garnet crystals on the right

7. 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.

8. 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 said that the red gems represented a tigers’ souls that had transformed into precious gems after death.
  • Navajo Indians in Utah, USA, used the gems as adornments to bring luck and protection.

9. The Duchess of Cambridge’s 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 the garnet is the Duchess’ birthstone (she was born in January), while the pearl is Prince’s William’s birthstone (born in June).

10. A special 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.

What is Garnet? January's Birthstone Meaning

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Beautiful deep red garnet jewellery for January babes