Garnet: January’s Birthstone

The stunning rainbow of garnet hues celebrates January birthdays. As the first month of the year, this time is characterized by hope, thoughtfulness and renewed focus. The January birthstone is said to bring peace, prosperity and good health to the home. Some even called it the “Gem of Faith.” Naturally occurring in a range of vibrant, beautiful colors, there’s a perfect piece of garnet jewelry for everyone.

Garnet's in every color!
Photographed from the GIA Collection.

The name “garnet” is derived from the Latin word “Granatum,” which roughly translates to “seeds.” This is thought to be a reference to the seeds of the dark red pomegranate, which garnets resemble.

While red is the most common color for garnets, they can also be found in orange, yellow, green and blue. The variety of garnet colors is due to the fact that the garnet family is made up of several different minerals. There are actually six different fairly common minerals that are referred to as garnets: almandite, grossular, pyrope, spessartite, andradite and uvarovite.

The garnet is a very durable gemstone (6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale), which makes it suitable for everyday wear. Garnet is also one of the most plentiful gemstones in the world. It can be found in abundance in Scotland, Tanzania, Switzerland, Australia, Argentina, South Africa, Brazil, the United States and Myanmar (Burma).

Famous Garnets
The garnet has been found in jewelry dating back to the Bronze Age. The gemstone has been popular throughout history, favored by the Egyptians, Romans, and Victorian era aristocracy. Egypt’s Pharaohs loved red garnet necklaces, which were often found entombed with them for the afterlife. In ancient Rome, signet rings with garnets were used to stamp seals on important documents.

Subway Garnet
Image courtesy of TheJewelryBlog

In 1885, the “Subway Garnet,” or Kunz Garnet, was found underground at West 35th Street between Broadway and 7th Avenue in New York. The “Subway Garnet” is the largest perfectly-formed mineral found in the United States; it’s the size of a bowling ball, weighs about 10 pounds with a diameter of roughly 15 inches. Not understanding its value, the Department of Public Works used the “Subway Garnet” as a doorstop for many years before it was finally taken to the archives of the American Museum of Natural History, where it now resides.

Jackie Kennedy's Garnet Brooch
Jackie Kennedy’s Garnet Brooch

From the estate of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, this garnet cabochon set into a flower brooch sold for $145,000 at a Sotheby’s auction.

Antique hairpin set with Bohemian pyrope garnets
Antique hairpin set with Bohemian pyrope garnets from the Czech Republic, now in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Image Source: GIA.edu

An antique pyrope garnet hairpin is exhibited at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. This Bohemian garnet, a pyrope, is set into the hairpin to create a stunning accessory.

Shopping for garnet birthstone jewelry? We have four stunning piece of luxury garnet jewelry and garnet rings, now available at Ritani:

Ritani Garnet pendant

Featuring a faceted deep red garnet pendant surrounded by a 14k yellow gold bezel, this effortlessly stylish pendant makes a statement whether worn alone or layered.

New Year's Eve jewelry cocktail rings

Erica Courtney travels the world in search of the most exquisite natural gemstones. This mandarin garnet Saturn ring, embellished with gorgeous orange sapphires, is truly breathtaking. Mimicking the planet’s iconic rings, the 18kt yellow bands complements its fiery center.

 

Ritani oval garnet and gold earrings

Inspired by Jackie Onassis Kennedy’s popular garnet earrings, these classic stud earrings feature faceted garnets surrounded by a 14k gold twisted rope.

New Year's Eve jewelry earrings

Inspired by the natural symmetry of flowers, these mandarin garnet drop earrings by Erica Courtney are simply breathtaking. In a gorgeous constellation, connected by bezel-set diamonds and set in traditional yellow gold, these earrings are the perfect gift for a loved one with a January birthday.

Is garnet your birthstone? Do you prefer the more renowned red garnet, or the unusual orange and green incarnations?