January's Birthstone - The Garnet
Happy New Year! We'd like to welcome our blog readers to another year of Alyssum Jewellery articles, and this year, as well as bringing you fun facts and trivia, style guides, and info about clip-on earrings, we'll be taking a monthly look at your magical birthstones. Let's kick off 2018 with a look at January's birthstone, the garnet.
What is a garnet?
The garnet gemstone is found in a range of colours from orange to deep red, with rare specimens (grossular and hydrogrossular garnet) also being found in colourless and green. The variation in colours is dependent on the metal content in its make up, but the most common and famously known colour is deep red.
The name 'garnet' is from the latin 'granatum', meaning pomegranate, for the gemstone's resemblance to the fruit's colour and seeds.
Tiffany & Co.'s Gregorian Birthstone Poem, published in 1870, has this to say about January's birthstone ...
By her who in this month (January) is born
No gem save garnets should be worn;
They will ensure her constancy,
True friendship, and fidelity.
A garnet is quite a hardy gemstone – in fact, bronze age jewellery and jewellery dating back 5000 years has been found with garnet decorations still intact!
Garnet is also fairly common with samples being found in streams and river beds where the rock that surrounded it had been worn away. It's found all over the world, but its frequency certainly doesn't detract from its value. There are many different variations of garnet (see our gemology guide for more info), and some of these are more valuable than others. Unlike most clear stones, inclusions in garnets and variations of colour can actually increase their value. Demantoid garnets are the most valuable. These bright green garnets, first identified in Russia in 1868, often have inclusions of asbestos that look like horse tails, with the horse tails raising the value of this gem significantly more than a green garnet without. What does it symbolise?
January's garnet symbolises peace, good health, friendship and prosperity. If you value a particular friendship giving a gift of garnet to that friend will ensure a lasting harmonious relationship.
In medieval times garnets were thought to protect the wearer from poison, and red garnets were thought particularly effective in treating disorders of the blood. Mentally they hold bad dreams at bay and relieve depression, balance energy to calm or stimulate as appropriate, and remove inhibitions. Because of its blood red colour, garnets were thought to be particularly healing for wounds, and healers would often put a garnet gem into a large open wound to encourage clotting, prevent infection, and aid healing. Superstitions and Beliefs
Warriors in ancient times – if they were wealthy enough – would add garnet decorations to their weapons and armour, or wear it as jewellery to prevent injury and ensure victory. More recently, in 1892, Hanza tribesmen on the Kashmir frontier fired bullets tipped with garnet on British soldiers, believing them to do more damage and be more effective than lead bullets.
Garnet also keeps the traveller safe during travel. Wear garnet if you're a nervous traveller to keep you calm and ensure you arrive at your destination safely. Your garnet will also protect you from pestilence and plague, but we recommend you still update your vaccinations before travel, just in case! Have you heard the expression "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"? With garnet that old adage is magnified, so any good deed you do will draw good back to you tenfold, but beware - that also applies to any bad deed you do!
Garnet has been prized for millennia. It has been used in jewellery and decoration dating back thousands of years. Egyptians considered garnet to be the symbol of life, and Romans prized it as a symbol of wealth and a good-luck talisman.
In the middle ages it was popular amongst royalty and the noble classes, possibly for its perceived protective powers in such times of intrigue and double-dealings! Garnet saw a revival in popularity amongst Victorian ladies who would commission pieces with tiny garnets in clusters to reflect their namesake pomegranate seeds, like these garnet cluster earrings. Were you born in January? If you are a January baby invest in, or request, a gift of garnet. As your birthstone all its magical properties will be enhanced for you, ensuring a life of peace, good friendships, protection and good health, and remember, January-born people are funny, inspirational, intelligent and independent ... and maybe just a little bit whacky! Does that sound like you?
Next week: "So You're Engaged!" Did you get a New Year's proposal? Our Just For Fun engagement article has some interesting facts and trivia that you may find ... engaging!