January Birthstone: Garnet History, Types, Benefits [2020]

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Gems are gems. Everyone loves to wear them, whether in the form of a pendant, a finger-ring or earrings, etc. They add elegance and glamour to your personality.

Plus, they also bring good luck and fortunes in your lives!

Yes, they do! Birthstones not only add to your beauty but also change your kismet for the better. Since ancient times they have been believed to promote good health, prosperity and bring happiness to human beings. Birthstones or gems are classified in many different ways. In one of the classification, they are categorized as Traditional. Modern, Mystical, and Ayurvedic.

What is the January Birthstone?

Every month of a year has a special birthstone assigned to it. Garnet is the luckiest gem for those born in January. The other includes Ruby, Agate, and Black Onyx for the Capricorns born in January and Amethyst, Moss Agate, Opal, and Sugilite for the Aquarius born in the first month of the Gregorian calendar.

Garnet- Meaning and History

For its red color similar to ‘pomegranate’, this January birthstone was baptized as ‘garnet’. There are pieces of evidence that confirm its presence during the Bronze age. The gem found its use as a gem and also as an abrasive in that era. The royal class of ancient Egyptian called pharaohs used to wear necklaces studded with garnet. Ancient Romans used the garnet as Signet rings with engraved inscription or design on them to stamp the wax to protect confidential documents. The Middle Age era also features Red Garnet as one of the most favorite gems among the ministry and the royal class.

Types of Garnets

To make jewelry articles, Garnet has the following six most common varieties:

Almandine

This is the most common type of garnet. Its color ranges from dark red to brown with a reddish shade. Almandine is the hardest form of garnet. Jewelers use only the clear variety of this gem to cut and make different designs of jewelry.

Pyrope

One of the most popular forms of garnet, Pyrope derives its name from the Greek word pyropos that literally means ‘fiery-eyed’. The deep red color perfectly matches the description when studded in an oval-shaped pendant of a necklace. It can compete with the class of Ruby in its best form. Those who love jewelry are pretty well aware of the most famous hair comb of Smithsonian. The comb had a Pyrope in the shape of a rose tugged at its top. This gem featured in ancient history came from Bohemia and was very popular during the 19th century Victorian times.

Spessartite

Spessartite is a bright garnet gem that is found in a variety of colors depending upon its area of origin.

  • Gems found in Madagascar are orange-yellow and are called Mandarin garnet.
  • The Colorado and Maine species of the gem are generally violet-red.

Grossular

This variety of garnet is colorless when it doesn’t have any impurity. Different impurities give it different colors, particularly the green shade of gooseberry whose botanical name grossularia gets the name of this species of garnet. This variety of grossular is found in plenty in Siberia. Grossular also comes in many other colors including red and yellow. Besides, some of them are also found in cinnamon brown color.

Andradite

Andradite is not the name referred to when describing these species of garnet as their sub-varieties are more popular:

Melanite– It is also called titanian andradite. It comes in black color.

Demantoid- This garnet species is one of the most precious gems and is found in vivid green color.

Topazolite- These gems usually come in yellow-green color. Some of them are so good in quality that they can be faceted to make highly attractive designs from the gems.

Uvarovite

This garnet is named after Semenovitch Uvarov who was a Russian minister and a popular mineral hobbyist of his time. It is the rarest type of garnet species and is found only in green color crystals.

Where Is Garnet Found?

As understood from different species of garnet, it is clear that they are found in many different regions across the world.

  • Red pyrope variety of garnet which was very popular during the Victorian era was sourced from Bohemia.
  • Ural mountains in Russia stored a huge quantity of Demantoid garnets. They were highly in demand among the royal families of Russia. Peter Faberge was a famous jeweler who created many different types of jewelry articles for the royal family during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • In the present time, Africa is one of the biggest suppliers of January Birthstone.
    • Namibia produces most of the Demantoid garnet in the world today.
    • Tsavorites which are known for their bright and vivid green color are mostly supplied from African countries like Kenya and Madagascar. Tanzania also produces a lot of these species in the world.
    • Now, even the orange-yellow Spessartine garnets, which were sourced from Sothern California for quite a long period, find their origin in Namibia and Tanzania.
  • Myanmar, India, and Srilanka also produce many of the high-quality varieties of the garnet gem.
  • Northern Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran also have many sources of this highly attractive and lucky gemstone.

How is Garnet formed?

The chemical composition of each region is different therefore different regions offer different varieties of Garnet. Their way of formation is also quite distinct from each other. However, the most common way of garnet formation is through the natural melting and cooling process.

When the two continental plates collide with each other, they create excessive heat and pressure. The colliding surface raises to a very high temperature and starts melting. Over some time, as the process of collision stops, it relieves the pressure between the two continental plates. Reduction in pressure brings down the temperature and the melted silicate material starts to cool down and solidify in the form of garnet crystals. During the process of crystalization, many other chemical impurities get mixed with these crystals. This mixing of impurities gives garnet many different colors and shades.

The process of collision, convergence, and crystallization continues for millions of years. The hard garnets formed during these years also weaken the rocks. This weakening of rocks causes many loose garnets to wither away with the water streams to be discovered as alluvial deposits in the plains, mountains, valleys, or the river beds.

What Are Treated Garnets?

Gemstone treaters treat the gems to enhance their looks and appearance. However, garnets cannot be treated for they do not improve their qualities with heat treatment. Many treaters tried the radiation method to treat this gemstone but again to no avail.  So, though many of the gems are available in their treated version, the garnets come only in the natural colors.

However, a synthetic variety of garnet is available in the market but is used as filters, abrasives, or for other industrial purposes. The two such varieties of synthetic garnet include,

Yttrium Aluminium Garnet or YAG

Before Cubic Zirconia occupied the taste of the gemstone lovers during late 1970, YAG was the preferred choice of those who loved the appearance of the garnet but couldn’t afford the real gem.

Gadolinium Gallium Garnet or GGG

GGG is almost entirely used for industrial purposes. It finds its use in the manufacturing of different optical parts. Besides, it is used as an underlying layer in many magneto-optical films and also to grow other garnets. Its use as a gemstone is rather limited and is therefore rarely found in jewelry stores.


Supposed Benefits of Garnets

Psychological Benefits

  • Indian astrology has been using these gems from ancient times to remove negative energies that lead to emotions like depression and guilt. They use Garnet to instill, restore, and boost the self-image of an individual and enhance their confidence.
  • These gems were also used by those astrologers to bring in peace of mind, calmness and promote creative and positive thinking in individuals with a depressed and self-doubting mindset.
  • The gem is also known for bringing more mental clarity
  • Garnet has also been used to treat inflammation and soreness of the heart caused by extreme anger.
  • The gem creates positive vibrations and purifies the energy around it and influences various physiological and psychological aspects of the wearer.
  • On one side, it brings in calm and serenity and on the other side, it also triggers passion and high energy of creativity.
  • By bringing in more mental clarity, refining energy, and soothing soring heart, it enhances the feeling of love and gives the determination to commit in every walk of life, be it a relationship or professional work.
  • It also helps in sorting out emotional trauma and chaos. Besides, the gem is also recommended when there is an excess of sexual urge or a complete lack of it. It helps in balancing the drive for sex.
  • The gem is known to enhance the fighting instincts of the individuals during adverse situations and helps them think optimistically about life-situations. Even the most difficult situations start to look like a bed of roses under the influence of this magic gem called the garnet.
  • The gem can be used to break the old insignificant patterns of the wearer and removes many psychological hindrances. If at all the wearers have the feeling of hurting themselves or stopping themselves from taking initiatives, the garnet eliminates such inhibitions and paves the way to move ahead with confidence.
  • Garnet also acts as a catalyst for other gemstones. It can trigger their properties for even better effects.

Are Garnets Connected With Spirituality?

Gemstones have always been seen as mysterious elements since ancient times. And anything mysterious finds its connection with spirituality in one way or the other.

  • The blend of different colors and the bright appearance impart it a kind of sacredness.
  • The red color of garnet represents love, friendship, warmth, and intimacy.
    • It has been believed for ages that gifting garnet to your dear ones will strengthen the bond of your relationship.
    • It is believed that if you fear that you may not meet a friend again you should give them a garnet gem. It has the magical power to bring your dear one back.
  • It is also used as a lucky charm to protect you from any unfortunate situation.
  • Garnet is also believed to be very helpful in concentration.
    • Due to this property, they help a lot in entering deep into meditation.
    • By wearing this gemstone, you can get connected to your inner voice or spiritual guru much easily.

Garnet Buying Guide

 

Due to the vast varieties of garnet and an equally large number of sources, there is a lot of variance in the quality of the gem. The following are the 4Cs of the factors you should consider when buying garnet for your purpose.

Color

Color is one of the most distinguishing factors among different species of the garnet. For instance, Pyrope or Almandine varieties have deep red to reddish-brown colors. Spessartine comes in orange-yellow or violet-red depending on its area of origin. Grossular, though is colorless in its purest form, takes the characteristic green of gooseberry in its most common form when mixed with impurities. It can have many more vibrant colors depending on the type of impurity in the region.

Carat Weight

Carat weight determines the accuracy of measurements. Garnets like tsavorite, which are rare to find in large sizes, have a higher value for the same carat weight compared to the ones that are available in large sizes in plenty. The value of garnets like tsavorite therefore increases sharply with an increase in size compared to the easily available large-size garnets like almandine.

Cut

The cut of a gem determines its quality of appearance. For ease of setting in the jewelry items, the garnet is usually cut into standard shapes. However, the costlier versions are cut so that they retain the maximum weight to bring down the wastage and, in turn, the cost.

Clarity Grade

Eye-inclusion visibility defines the clarity grade of a garnet. More noticeable eye-visible inclusion will make it rank low on clarity grade. The size of the garnet also influences its clarity grade. So, garnets with the same size eye-inclusions will have different clarity grades. The bigger garnet will be placed in the higher grade compared to the smaller ones with the same eye-inclusion.


Suitable Jewelry for Garnet

 

With the hardness of different varieties of garnets ranging from 6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale, it is a very safe gemstone to make a variety of jewelry articles.

  • Though they are pretty strong to bear the impact of everyday use they may not withstand intense strikes. Together with this you also need to protect the gem from knocking off from the jewelry item.
    • From these aspects, a bezel, pendant, or earrings are highly suitable jewelry items for garnet.
  • Another important factor you should consider when designing garnet jewelry is its carat weight. Generally, they are available in small sizes. However, the positive with garnet is that they are available in a very wide variety of colors and shades.
    • So, even in the smaller carat sizes, they make highly attractive gemstone jewelry.
  • The low-cost variety of garnet is often cut in standard shapes. This together with the standard sizes, makes it easy to set the stone in the article.
    • However, the expensive gems are designed in a wide variety of cuts, styles, shapes, and sizes. These special designs highlight the most attractive and subtlest qualities of the gemstone.
  • While choosing the jewelry, you also need to look for the metal of the jewelry. You should select the metal according to the type of jewelry and the color of the garnet.

How to Differentiate Between Garnet and Ruby?

 

Apparently, the two red color gems look similar. You can easily be deceived by their appearance.

Rubies are the more expensive form of gems, so in most likelihood, there are least chances of you being given a ruby instead of a garnet. So, if you are buying the gem for the jewelry, it won’t be disadvantageous to you in any way. However, if you are using it as your birthstone, a Ruby cannot replace a Gernet for the January borns. The kind of benefits garnet will offer to them, even the best quality of Ruby can’t replace that.

To differentiate the gems you need to closely observe some of the following properties.

Color of the Gem

The red ruby is pure red. If you keep it together with garnet, you can easily distinguish them as garnet also reflects many other shades like orange, brown, green, and so on along with red.

Observe the Spectrum

Against a light source, the two gems reflect different lights of the spectrum.

  • Ruby absorbs green light along with the yellow and therefore makes blue and red lights visible in the spectrum. Against the light, they refract two blurred spectrums.
  • Garnet, on the other hand, reflects yellow and green in a single clear rainbow spectrum.

Hardness

It is a more objective parameter to identify the gem. Ruby is the harder of the two gems measuring 9 on the Mohs scale against 6.5 to 7.5 of garnet.


Garnet Birthstone Care

The hardness of a stone on the Mohs scale defines its susceptibility and helps you to establish the do’s and don’ts norms while taking care of the gem.

  • The hardness of Garnet ranges between 6.5 and 7.5. It signifies that the stone is softer compared to a ruby and of course diamond.
    • So, though some garnets cannot be used for routine wearing, many in the harder range are perfect for pendants or earrings.
  • While storing the garnet, you need to ensure that they are kept away from the harder gems as these gems will cause a scratch on the garnet.
    • Similarly, you should also avoid keeping them together with the softer ones like pearls and opals for the safety of the latter.
  • Garnets are generally not fracture-filled.
    • However, to improve the clarity the treaters can fill them with a substance similar to glass. These treated gems require more care compared to the normal ones.
  • For cleaning the gem, you can use a mild soap and warm water solution and clean it using a soft brush.
    • Another effective and safe way to clean garnet is to use ultrasonic cleaners that use very high-frequency sound waves to clean the gem. However, you should not use these cleaners to clean the treated gems.

Where To Buy January Birthstones?

Many online retailers sell high-quality garnets. Some of the most quality-oriented retailers include James Allen, Blue Nile, Amazon, Whiteflash, Ritani, Zales, Kay, and Jared. One of the biggest positives to buy from these retailers is that you will get the quality as claimed by the sellers and will get the gems at the most reasonable price. Moreover, you will also get a wide variety of garnets in these highly prestigious stores. These stores also offer a 30 days return policy to all their gems including garnets.


Final Words

Garnet is the luckiest January birthstone that not only adds glitter to your appearance but also helps you in shining your stars. By offering so many physiological and psychological benefits, the garnet knocks on the door of all the January borns with all auspicious signs.

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