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Garnet - The January Birthstone

January 2, 2019

When most people think of Garnet, they imagine a red stone. Even the origin of the word Garnet comes from the Latin “granatum” meaning “having many seeds” and relates to the fact that to the Romans, the colour of Garnet was reminiscent of the seeds of a pomegranate!

Garnet, however, is much more than the red variety popular in ancient Rome. There are orange varieties such as spessartine and hessonite which are mined in Namibia and Sri Lanka. Green varieties such as demantoid mined in Russia and Tsavorite (a popular colour substitute for emerald) found in Kenya and Tanzania. Other varieties can be yellow, black, grey, brown, pink, purple, and in the rarest of instances, blue. Garnets have also been known to display asterism, a four or six-rayed star similar to the effect found in a star sapphire and there is even a variety known as “Colour Change Garnet” that a gemologist would describe as a “Phenomenal Gem” that changes colour under different lighting. The Colour Change Garnet is deep green or blue-green under sunlight but becomes red or purple indoors under incandescent lighting.

The history of the Garnet as an important gemstone predates Roman time by 3000 years. The Egyptians would include Garnet jewellery in their tombs, a prized possession destined for the afterlife. In earlier times the Garnet was called the travellers stone because it was thought to protect one from perils on the road and to preserve health. It was even used in a powder form as a poultice to relieve fevers. Garnet symbolizes faith, constancy and truth and in addition to serving as the birthstone for those lucky enough to be born in January; Garnet is also honoured as the gemstone symbol for the second wedding anniversary.

The Garnet is a wonderful stone for jewellery. Not only do some Garnet varieties offer dazzling optical properties such as brilliance and dispersion (fire), but Garnet is a robust stone and its hardness allows for a variety of different cutting shapes and consequently is very versatile, suitable for all types of jewellery styles. In addition, the abundance of Garnet (found on almost every continent) makes certain varieties very affordable, even larger stones for those must-have statement pieces.

Whether shopping for yourself or for someone else, seek out your local Canadian Jewellers Association member through our website directory for more information on this incredible gem or for any of your jewellery and timepiece needs!