January Focus: Garnet

Garnet is known as the birthstone of January, as well as marking the second anniversary. It’s name can be derived from the Latin word for pomegranate and refer to its similarities in color and shape of the fruit. A deep red color is generally associated with garnet gemstones. However, these gems are available in every color! Garnets can be found in every color of the rainbow: although the red is the most commonly known, it's available in yellow, orange, purple, and even green and blue. The green and blue shades are the rarest, and require very specific conditions to form naturally. Green garnets are also called Tsavorites.


garnet colors

Colors of garnet via jewelers.org

Historically, garnets were viewed as a symbol of love and friendship, making it an excellent gift for birthdays or to celebrate an anniversary. It was believed to promote health and well-being. In Ancient Rome, warriors wore it for protection in battle; Native American healers believed garnet had the ability to protect from injury and poison.

pyrope haircomb

Pyrope Haircomb via naturalhistory.si.edu

Garnets can be found in Ancient Egyptian jewelry dating back 5000 years. A necklace with garnet beads was found in an Egyptian tomb. The pyrope hair comb is one of the most iconic pieces of garnet jewelry. Pyrope is derived from the Greek word pyropos, meaning firelike. This piece was designed at the height of Victorian fashion, with a rose-cut gem in the middle and encrusted in garnets from the Bohemian Czech Republic. It was donated to the Smithsonian in 1937. 


Garnet and Diamond Pendant in 14 Karat Yellow Gold

While Bohemia was the source for garnet stones during the Victorian era, today, African countries such as Kenya, Namibia, and Madagascar supply the world with this gemstone. In the United States, garnets can be found in Southern California. The January birthstone can also be found in countries such as Brazil, Iran, and Myanmar. 

Tsavorite and Diamond Ring in 18 Karat White Gold

Garnet gemstones have a hardness of up to 7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness. They are more easily damaged than diamonds or rubies, but can scratch softer gems such as pearls or opals. Their susceptibility to damage does not make them ideal for daily wear. It is always safe to clean your garnets with a soft brush and warm soapy water. 

Header image via GIA.edu