JANUARY'S BIRTHSTONE - GARNET
Those born in January are lucky to have the beautiful and diverse garnet as their birthstone.
Garnets are commonly red but can be found in a kaleidoscope of stunning colours from orange and yellow, to deep purple and vibrant green. There are even garnets that change colour from blue to purple in different lighting.
Steeped in exciting legend and lore some believe the true value of the garnet birthstone is its power to bring the wearer good health, wealth and happiness.
GARNET MEANING & HISTORY
This sparkling red gem is a legendary precious stone; the name “garnet” having originated from the medieval Latin granatus, meaning “pomegranate in reference to the gems juicy red hue.
Garnets have been used as adornments since the Bronze age. Discoveries in Egyptian tombs of garnet adorned amulets, signet rings found in ancient Roman settlements featuring garnet intaglios that were used to stamp the wax that secured important documents show that garnets have been held in the highest esteem for thousands of years.
A plethora of wonderful legends and folklore surrounds the garnet, stemming from a diverse range of cultures and time periods; but the key message throughout time is how garnet protects its wearer - be that from enemies, illness, or bad dreams!
For centuries, garnet was viewed as a symbol of love and friendship, and a way to promote protection and healing. In ancient Rome warriors would wear garnet for protection and travels used it to ensure safe passage on long journeys - if their garnet sparkled, it was a warning of approaching danger. As time progressed royalty also favoured garnet jewellery for its protection abilities.
Native American healers believed garnet to possess the ability to protect against injury and poison, while in ancient Egypt, it was used to ward off bad dreams and cure depression.
In medieval times, gems like garnet were used as remedies for inflammatory diseases and to soothe the angry heart or hung around the neck for the cure of indigestion and sore throats.
WHERE ARE GARNETS FOUND?
Garnets come from many different regions and countries. Bohemia was the primary source of the red pyrope garnets which were at their height of popularity during Victorian times. In 19th-century Russia, green demantoid garnets from the Ural Mountains were prized by the Russian royal family and used by the great jeweller Peter Carl Fabergé (1846–1920).
Today India is one of the biggest producers, with large mines also being found in Africa, South America and Russia.
GARNET BIRTHSTONE CARE AND CLEANING
The different types of garnet range between 6.5 and 7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness. This means that garnets are more susceptible to damage compared to rubies, sapphires and diamonds. as a result, not all garnets are good candidates for daily wear, but they are ideal for earrings, brooches and pendants.
Give special thought to how you store your garnet jewellery too; don’t let it rub against harder gems i.e., diamonds, rubies and sapphires as it could be become scratched. And remember that garnet can scratch softer gems, such as opals or pearls.
When cleaning, use a soft brush with warm soapy water as a safe way to keep your garnets sparkly clean, but if you’re unsure, it’s always best to check with one of the Baker Brother gemstones specialists.