If you’re lucky enough to be born in January, garnet is your birthstone. A gem found around the world, garnet comes in a painter’s palette of colors. So there’s bound to be a hue to suit your taste. Garnets also come with a rich history. Red garnet necklaces graced the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Ancient Romans used carved garnets in signet rings to stamp wax seals safeguarding important documents. And the clergy and nobility of the middle ages had a particular affinity for garnet. Have I piqued your interest? Great! To learn more about this fascinating gem check out our list of “15 Interesting Facts about Garnet” below:
The word “garnet” comes from the 14th Century Middle English word “gernet” meaning dark red. The word is derived from Latin “granatum” which means seed, and is called so because of the gemstone’s resemblance to the beautifully red seeds of the pomegranate.
Garnet is actually the name of a group of minerals that comes in a rainbow of colors, from the deep red of the Pyrope garnet to the vibrant green of Tsavorites. The most common color is a beautiful range of reds, from rust colored to deep violet-red. The deep red transparent stones we normally associate with gemstone garnets are the Almandine garnets. However, Garnet actually displays the greatest variety of color of any mineral, occurring in every color except blue.
Besides brilliance and attractive colors, garnets sometimes exhibit optical phenomena such as asterism (a star-shaped pattern of reflections), chatoyancy (a “cat’s-eye” seen in reflected light), or a color change when viewed under different types of lighting.
Pyrope has several tradenames some of which are misnomers; Cape ruby, Arizona ruby, California ruby, Rocky Mountain ruby, and Bohemian garnet
Garnet is found all over the world, including major mining sites include the Czech Republic, Greece, India, Madagascar, Russia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and The United States.
Because the chemical composition of garnet varies, the atomic bonds in some species are stronger than in others. As a result, this mineral group shows a range of hardness on the of about 6.5 to 7.5 on the mohs hardness scale.
The folklore on garnet is extensive. Legend has it that the garnet can bring peace, prosperity and good health to the home. Some even called it the “Gem of Faith,” and it’s believed that to those who wear it and do good, more good will come. (Conversely, it was also said to bring very bad fortune to those who commit bad acts while wearing it.)
The garnet is so durable, remnants of garnet jewelry can be found as far back as the Bronze Age.
Other references go back to 3100 BC when the Egyptians used garnet as inlays in their jewelry and carvings. The Egyptians even said it was the symbol of life.
The garnet was very popular with the Romans in the 3rd and 4th Century. Garnet jewelry has been a fixture throughout the ages. Garnets were often used as signet rings in ancient Rome, and the nobility favored garnets in the Middle Ages.
This gemstone was also used as a talisman for protection both by warriors going into battle and to those who wanted to ward off pestilence and plague. Some ancient healers and wise men even placed garnets in wounds and praised its healing powers.
The garnet also symbolized deep and lasting friendship. With that legend in mind, give a garnet to someone whose friendship you deeply value.
The Victorians made garnets very popular during that time period. Some of the loveliest garnet jewelry from that era mimics its pomegranate namesake, with clusters of tiny red gems forming a larger statement piece.
Today, the garnet can be found in a range of jewelry pieces and styles, from beautiful rings to stunning tiaras. Since the garnet can come in a range of colors there is sure to be a Garnet piece that will be perfect for you!
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No matter why or how you wear garnet, this beautiful gemstone is perfect for those who share January birthdays and get to start each New Year with a sense of goodwill, happiness, and purpose.
Sources: The American Gem Society, GIA, Wikipedia