Happy Birthday January: All about Garnets

garnet by: jaja_1985 (flickr)

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful 2013, has had a wonderful start to 2014, and that your holidays were absolutely spectacular! I've been pretty busy with the holidays, and my wedding planning is in full swing now, so I feel a little bit like I'm running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I don't expect things to slow down too much anytime soon but I actually think the crazy, "go, go, go" pace of my life is what I need. I excel under pressure! Anyway, now that 2014 is finally underway I want to wish all of the January babies out there a very happy birthday month! To celebrate, I wanted to share a few facts about your gorgeous birthstone, the garnet!

January Birthstone - Garnet

Garnets come in a variety of colors including orange, red, yellow, blue, black, etc. There are so many colors with the rarest being the blue garnet, which was discovered in Madagascar in the 90s. Since then it has been found in Russia, Kenya, Turkey, Tanzania, and right here in the USA. During the day it appears more blue-green, and in incandescent light it appears purple. The garnets used most commonly as gemstones are red.

History of Garnets as Gemstones

In the Late Antique Roman Period red garnets were the most popular of all gemstones used. The garnets were used to decorate metalwork in the Migration Period art of the people who took over the Western Roman Empire territory. The technique they used is called "cloisonné" which involves inlaying garnet in gold cells. Today, pure crystals of garnets continue to be used as gemstones and come in a variety of shades from green, yellow, orange, and red to blue, purple, and even a clear variety.

Beliefs about Garnets

  • In India it was believed that the garnet granted those who wore it health and happiness, and actually would protect the wearer from being hit by lightning.
  • During the Black Death, it was believed that garnets could be used as a remedy for the plague and other inflammatory diseases.
  • In the Middle Ages, color changing garnets, like the blue one discussed earlier, were believed to warn the wearer of danger when it changed color.
  • Also in the Middle Ages, they represented fidelity, consistency, and happiness, and granted these to those who were deserving. For those who were not deserving, it would cause chaos.

Miscellaneous Facts About Garnets

The word "garnet" has origins in 14th century Middle English. The word "garnet" means dark red. Garnets are not only the birthstone of January, but are also the state gemstone of both New York and Idaho. Garnet is also the state mineral of Connecticut.

The light transmitting properties of garnets range from stunning, gemstone quality transparent, to more opaque varieties that are used as abrasives and for industrial purposes. The hardness varies due to the multiple chemical compositions different species of garnet possess. The harder garnets are used more frequently for abrasive purposes. Hardness on the Mohs scale ranges from approximately 6.5 to 7.5.

To identify gemstone grade garnets a neodymium magnet is used to separate them from other transparent gemstones that frequently are used in jewelry. Refractive index in conjunction with magnetic susceptibility are used to classify different varieties.

In Conclusion?

They are pretty interesting, right? You all know I love colorful gemstones and garnet comes in so many varieties, you can find one to suit the tastes of almost anyone. If you want some more information check out the following resources and if you were born in January - a very happy birthday to you!