Fashion,beauty and jewellery for the non-invisible woman over 45

Friday, 5 January 2018

Garnet, birthstone for January

You may have thought that we were finished with birthstones after Is This Mutton?'s exhaustive series last year. I featured mostly the traditional birthstones in 2017 but there are several alternatives, including modern birthstones. In January we're focusing on the garnet, both the traditional, and modern, choice for January. Garnet is the stone that symbolises the second year of marriage.
I have always associated garnets with the Victorians for some reason, and fairly old-fashioned, heavy set jewellery. This probably harks back to a golden age of garnet around the 1800s featuring Bohemian garnets.

The name "garnet" comes from the Medieval Latin word, "granatum", which is an adjective meaning "dark-red". But garnet comes in a rainbow of colours. Gemporia explains about mint green garnet here. You can also get garnets in yellow, orange, peach, purple, blue (rare), brown and pink.

They were highly prized thousands of years ago. Egypt’s pharaohs wore garnet necklaces which were entombed with their mummified corpses as prized possessions for the afterlife. In ancient Rome, signet rings with carved garnets were used to stamp the wax that secured important documents.

Red garnet’s availability increased with the discovery of the famous Bohemian garnet deposits in central Europe around 1500. This source became the nucleus of a regional jewellery industry that reached its peak in the late 1800s.

Garnet is found all over the world. One of the most recently discovered colors of garnet is rare blue garnet, which was discovered in the late 1990s in Madagascar. It has since been found in other regions, including the USA, Russia, Kenya, Tanzania and Turkey.

Famous garnets

A garnet cabochon set into an exquisite flower brooch from the estate of Jackie Kennedy Onassis reached over $100,000 at auction.
Miley Cyrus in garnet earrings

Care of Garnets

Garnets are quite tough and durable, though the hardness depends on the type of garnet. For example, demantoid garnets are softer than almandine or pyrope garnets.

Proper care for garnets includes protecting them from hard blows, which could damage them. To clean your garnets, simply use warm soapy water and a soft cloth. Be sure to rinse well to remove soapy residue. As with most gemstones, ultrasonic cleaners and steamers are not recommended. 

A Very Versatile Gemstone

Garnet is very versatile due to its great variety of colors, and ideal for almost any type of jewellery such as rings, necklaces, pendants, bracelets, hair pins and other beautiful ornaments.

They come in many different variations, ranging from popular, and more expensive, demantoid and pyrope garnets, to less common hessonite garnets which are orange.

Prices start very modestly, but you can also get more expensive garnet jewellery set with diamonds and in 18k gold. Here's a selection I picked out. This heart shaped garnet pendant on a silver chain is from London jeweller Stephen Einhorn, £1,194. There are delightful matching earrings and you can choose the metal of your choice.

A cheaper alternative is this sterling silver, marcasite and garnet ring at £25 from Gemondo Jewellery.
The ring shown at the top of the post is a Malawi Garnet Ring with Diamond in 9K Gold 2.21cts from Gemporia, £143.

If mint green garnet floats your boat, Gemporia have several rings including this one featuring Merelani mint garnet with Diamond in 9K Gold 1.41cts, £285.

This green garnet and diamond butterfly brooch is a cool £4,590 from Hatton Jewels in London.
A modern look for a traditional red garnet in 18K yellow gold, from Tiffany and Co, available at Hatton Jewels for £850:
Discover the stories behind the birthstones in the Is This Mutton? series: Peridot, Ruby, Emerald, Topaz, Aquamarine, Pearl, Sapphire, Diamond. Check out my Pinterest jewellery board, which features more jewellery than can be shown on the blog. Next month we'll be exploring the Amethyst.

Sharing this post with Weekend Blog Hop at Claire Justine and #SaturdayShare at Not Dressed as Lamb.


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  1. Garnet is one of my favourite stones. I think because it was the first that I had. Earrings from my parents. That aside though it's a lovely rich colour that also appeals to me.

    1. The deep red is lovely, isn't it? I am less keen on the mint green - I think peridot and emerald provide better greens. My first marriage engagement ring was a garnet, although it was more of a deep pink colour.

  2. They are all so beautiful. I'll have them all! Love the ring from Tiffany!
    xo Yvonne

  3. Such a great and informative post. Garnet is my birthstone. Have a lovely weekend.

    Gemma x

    1. Many thanks Gemma and a happy weekend to you too!

  4. I love garnet, it is a beautiful stone. Love these Gail :) Thanks for sharing at Welcome To The Weekend Blog Hop, have a lovely weekend.


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