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Behind the Birthstone: Garnet for January

A gemstone found in a wide variety of colors, garnet is most commonly associated with the color crimson, but pink, green, orange and purple varieties are gaining popularity. In Medieval times, January’s birthstone was thought to protect its wearer against poisons, wounds and bad dreams, as well as cure depression.

Capricorns, Aquarius’ and those celebrating a second wedding anniversary can find a wide selection of garnet jewelry, including the pinkish-orange lotus garnet variety, to add to their wishlist. To help celebrate this gem, we’ve rounded up a few interesting facts and some new arrivals to Borsheims.com for gifting inspiration.

  • Red garnet is one of the most common and widespread gems, found in metamorphic rocks (which are rocks altered by heat and pressure) on every continent.
  • A green garnet, tsavorite, also occurs in metamorphic rocks, but it’s rarer because it needs unusual rock chemistries and special conditions to form.
  • Demantoid is a rare and famous green garnet, spessartine (also called spessarite) is an orange garnet, and rhodolite is a beautiful purple-red garnet.
  • Unearthed in the Mahenge region of northern Tanzania, lotus garnet was only recently discovered in late 2015. The unique pinkish orange to orangey pink color of lotus garnet makes it an exceptional substitute to Padparadscha Sapphire, Morganite and Imperial Topaz. Lotus garnet is a member of three garnet families, pyrope, spessartine and almandine and is usually found in conjunction with rhodolite garnet and spinel.
lotus garnet bypass ring
  • All garnets have essentially the same crystal structure, but they vary in chemical composition.
  • There are more than twenty garnet categories, called species, but only five are commercially important as gems. Those five are pyrope, almandine (also called almandite), spessartine, grossular (grossularite), and andradite.
  • A sixth, uvarovite, is a green garnet that usually occurs as crystals too small to cut. It’s sometimes set as clusters in jewelry.
  • Garnets can even exhibit the color-change phenomenon similar to the rare gemstone alexandrite. Simply called color change garnets, these stones are typically a mix of spessartite and pyrope.
  • Red garnets availability increased with the discovery of the famous Bohemian garnet deposits (in the modern-day Czech Republic) around 1500.
  • In 19th century Russia, green demantoid garnets from the Ural Mountains were prized by the Russian royal family and used by the great jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé.
  • Today, the African continent supplies much of the world’s garnet. Namibia is now producing demantoids, and most of the bright green tsavorites in the market come from Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar. Namibia and Tanzania are also key sources of the rich orange-to-yellow spessartine garnets.
  • The birthstone for January is also found in Myanmar, Brazil, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, among other countries.
parle sharing the rough garnet ring and garnet earrings
  • Red garnet was a prized possession of Egyptian pharaohs, adorning elaborate necklaces and entombed with their mummified corpses for the afterlife.
  • Ancient Romans were also fond of the stone, buying signet rings with carved garnet to stamp the wax that secured important documents.
  • According to Indian astrology, garnet helps eliminate negative feelings (melancholy, guilt) and instill greater self-confidence and mental clarity to promote creative thinking and peace of mind.
  • In ancient and medieval times, gems like garnet were also thought to be remedies for inflammatory diseases and to soothe the angry heart.

For more garnet facts, treatment and care tips visit our gemstone guide and browse below for necklaces, rings, earrings and bracelets sure to put a smile on any January babies’ face.

Garnet Jewelry