Birthstone of January

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January – the month of a new year, starting of new beginnings and a look back on the past. This month, like the others has a birthstone associated with it – the Garnet.

The word “Garnet” is said to derive from the Latin “granum” meaning “grain.” Today, garnets mostly come from African countries, but also from India, Russia and Central and South America. With a hardness of 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs’ scale, this stone is perfect to wear for any piece of jewelry. The skilled hands of cutters work them into many classical shapes, but also increasingly into modern, imaginative designer cuts. The typical cut of a garnet is in a round shape, resembling a pomegranate seed. Mostly correlated with jewelry from the ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman eras it is also associated with the Zodiac sign for Aquarius and the planets Mars, Mercury and Pluto.

Garnets are much sought after gemstones because of their classical colours of red and green. Not only are the red and green colours highly esteemed but also the fine hues in between. The world of garnets are rich in rarity such as star garnets and gemstones where the colour changes depending on whether they are seen in daylight or artificial light. A further plus is their high refractive index; the cause of the garnet’s high brilliance.

Just like the blazing colour of the pomegranate seed, red is the most frequent occurring colour. In the Middle Ages, the red garnet was also called the 'carbuncle stone'. Like other gemstones, the garnet comes in a selection of colours from the rainbow including colourless. Members of the garnet family include: Almandite, Andradite, Demantoid, Grossularite, Hessonite, Hydrogrossular, Leuco, Melanite, Namibia, Pyrope, Rhodolite, Spessartite, Tapazolite, Tsavorite, Uvarovite and many more. Of the different members of garnets, Almandite and Pyrope are two of the main types widely used in jewelry. A hybrid of Almandine and Pyrope is known as Rhodolite. This popular garnet is of magnificent velvety red with a fine violet or raspberry-red undertone. Rhodolite is mainly found in gemstone mines in East Africa, India and Sri Lanka.

The most famous garnet was found at the auction of the Estate of Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis on April 24, 1996. A 19th century stunning cabochon cut garnet flower brooch was sold for $145,000. During the same year, it was said that a university student found a giant garnet weighing thousands of tons in Australia, but has not been confirmed.

Through the myths and legends, Noah reportedly used a garnet lantern to steer his Arc through the darkness. Many people believed that the garnet had special powers and were used as talismans for protection against evil. The stone is said to help with arthritis, pancreas, varicose veins and toenails.

Anyone who loves what is pure and natural and the warm, sun-bathed colours of late summer will be fired with enthusiasm by the colour spectrum of the garnet. Garnets remain convincing with their natural, unadultered beauty, the variety of their colours and their tremendous brilliance. Anyone acquiring garnet jewelry can be assured that the joy he or she derives from this beautiful gemstone gift from Nature, will be long-lasting and undimmed.