"". Garnet, birthstone for January | Is This Mutton?

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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. We have featured the traditional birthstones 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 symbolizes the second year of marriage.

Garnets tend to be associated with the Victorians and fairly old-fashioned, heavy set jewellery. This harks back to a golden age of garnet around the 1800s featuring Bohemian garnets. But the garnet lends itself equally well to modern styles.

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.

All gemstones have a spiritual meaning, and garnets are said to aid circulation and all blood related issues. Associated with the First Chakra, it is a stone of physical love and relationships, and a spiritual stone of psychic protection.

Famous garnets

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

Care of garnets

Garnets are quite tough and durable, though the hardness depends on the type of garnet.  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.

Should you ever find yourself in the Czech Republic, seek out the many shops selling garnet jewellery. Most garnets are mined near the small town of Teplice, situated about 63km northwest of Prague. Garnets are produced by a single company – Granat Turnov – which has branches in Dlouha and Panska street.

Prices start very modestly, but you can also get more expensive garnet jewellery set with diamonds and in 18k gold.

Learn the history of your birthstone

Check out other gemstones in the Is This Mutton? series:  Amethyst, February; Aquamarine, March; Diamond or Bloodstone; April; Emerald, May; Pearl, June; Moonstone, June; Ruby;  July; Peridot, August; Sapphire and Opal, October; Topaz or CitrineNovember;  Tanzanite or ZirconDecember


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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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