If you wear jewelry, you usually fall into one of two categories: You either LOVE or you HATE your birthstone. The biggest reason people fall into the latter category? They don’t like the color of their birthstone. There are, however, a ton of reasons to love January’s birthstone. So, today I’m going to give you January babies a Crash Course in a stone called garnet.
History & Symbolism of Garnet
For those that don’t know, garnet is January’s birthstone, and it has a rich history. Egyptians used garnet inlays in jewelry and other items that can be dated back as far as 3100 B.C. Regarded as a powerful talisman, garnets were worn to protect warriors in battle and to drive away the plague. The stone was popular in the middle ages, and continued to enjoy popularity throughout history. One of the most famous garnets in history is the Antique Pyrope Hair Comb. While you may think, ‘what is special about a hair comb?’, this victorian beauty boasts an enormous rose-cut (faceted on the front and flat on the back) pyrope garnet as its centerpiece, and is surrounded by dozens more. These fantastic pyrope garnets all came from the historic mines in Bohemia, now known as the Czech Republic. Today garnet is mined all over the world, even in the U.S.
The stone itself is symbolic of passion, inspiration, love and romance. Which is why many gift this stone for Valentine’s day.
So Many Choices
January babies also have an advantage in that garnet is one of the few traditional birthstones that comes in a variety of different colors. Ranging from purple-red (pyrope, rhodolite, almandine garnet), to orange-gold-brown (mandarin, spessartine, hessonite garnet) and many shades of green (tsavorite, grossular garnet), there is something for everyone. There are even more rare colors such as black, and a blue that changes to purple.
Here in the studio, I work mostly with red, brown and green garnet. Turquoise mixed with hessonite garnet, is a favorite, which you will remember as part of my collection release back in September. However, if you have been following me over the years, you’ll find that I mix just about everything with turquoise!
Green garnet is often confused with peridot, as well as a lesser known stone called vesuvianite. While it is not easy to tell them apart, I find that green garnet tends to have a more olive tone. While lesser quality peridot can share that trait, apple green is the norm, and tends to be clearer in appearance.
One of my favorite and more rare varieties of garnets is mandarin. I only have a small collection of stones in this variety, but they are a soft tangerine color like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Expect to see these beauties make an appearance in my work during 2021.
Last but not least is red garnet. This stone is so plentiful and affordable. Rhodolite tends to have a more purplish-red appearance, while almandine garnet is slightly more to the red side. Punchy and fun, you cannot deny that red garnet gets noticed. In my opinion, the best red garnet comes in unusual shapes, adding an unexpected edge to a stone that is so easy to find.
Just the Tip of the Iceberg
I cannot forget to mention the healing properties of garnets. And while each color has its own list of benefits, for brevity, we’ll cover red garnet. Earlier I mentioned ancient lore surrounding the stone, and would add that some believed the true value of garnet was its power to bring the wearer good health, wealth and happiness. However, you’ll find that when you read about a (any) stone that there is much overlap with regard to ancient lore, healing properties, metaphysical properties, etc… And, before I go on I want to remind you that I am not an expert in such things. I personally believe that people are drawn to stones for reasons outside of their knowing. What causes this, I do not know, but I strongly believe it. This allows jewelry to have an extremely personal connection to its wearer. That said, here is what I’ve read:
Garnets are thought to reduce body toxins, regenerate the body and restore metabolism. Remember those warriors that wore the stone in ancient times and the middle ages for protection? Well, one reason was to protect from poisoning! Emotionally, garnet is thought to give a sense of calm, and to heal emotional imbalance and restore energy. Spiritually it causes introspection not only of yourself, but with outside relationships, and frees you from that which does not serve you.
If you are interested in learning more about this stone, check out my footnotes section below for a list of my reference materials used in researching this post. There is a wealth of knowledge there, and the books and websites are great resources.
- American Gem Society
- Gemological Institute of America
- Gemstones of the World, by Walter Schumann
- Healing with Crystals and Chakra Energies, by Sue and Simon Lilly
- The Crystal Vaults, has a fantastic encyclopedic guide to just about any stone you are interested in.