Before 1912, birthstones weren’t standardized. People might be surprised to learn that in that year the National Association of Jewelers held a meeting to do so. The list of official birthstones has obtained since then, though in 1952 it was updated a bit by the Jewelry Industry Council of America. Garnet has been the official birthstone for January since at least the 15th century and so far no society has sought to change it, you may also know this gem under the name of January Birthstone.
The jewel is quite common and is found in many silicate rocks. Gem quality stones are found mostly in South Africa, Namibia, Central and South America, Russia, Arizona, and Colorado. It often appears as a transparent or translucent crystal that can be naturally faceted if it’s small or opaque if it’s larger. It’s also a surprisingly hard gem and can be as hard as 7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale. Though people think of a red stone when they think of garnet, the color can range from deep red to brown to black. Sometimes even yellow and green types are found. The physical properties of the gem correspond to the mineral base it was found in.
Legend has it that Noah, during the Great Flood, used a garnet lamp to help light the way of the Ark. The birthstone is said to warn against approaching danger an was often carried as a talisman, especially by sailors and explorers. Like Noah’s lantern, it was also supposed to light up the dark nights at sea.
As a birthstone, garnet is regenerating and purifies and refines energy. It can bring both passion or calm. The gemstone inspires love and commitment and balances the sex drive and any sort of emotional chaos. The birthstone is especially valuable to have during times of crisis. The jewel strengthens the survival instinct and lends hope and courage when times are traumatic or a situation seems intolerable. Under the influence of the gem, an insurmountable crisis can be transformed into a challenge or even an opportunity.
Garnet has traditionally been linked with the pituitary gland and can prompt an expanded consciousness and even past life recall. It also sharpens the wearer’s perceptions of themselves and others. It clears away old habits and patterns of behavior that are no longer useful to the wearer and removes inhibitions. It also does away with resistance and self-sabotage.
It’s also known for its ability to activate other gemstones and crystals. A square cut birthstone also helps with success in business.
As a healing mineral, the birthstone supports the metabolism of the body and treats disorders of the cells and the spinal column. It also purifies the blood, heart, and lungs and helps to regenerate DNA. It also helps the body utilize vitamins and minerals. Pyrope especially gives energy to the body and helps to regulate the digestive system. Another species of the gem, almandine, builds the body’s stamina and strength. It also helps the body absorb iron from the intestines and supports the health of the eyes, liver, and pancreas. Any sort of red garnet symbolizes love and controls anger, especially anger turned inward.