January Birthstone Password: GARNET

January babies, you are a lucky birthstone child, indeed!  The garnet is one of nature’s most noble gems, available a blinding array of colors, and is a tantalizing, delectable, natural color gemstone which uniquely has been associated with love.

 Mimosa Bracelet with African Garnets and Diamonds

Mimosa Bracelet with African Garnets and Diamonds

Nickname:    Garnet is known the “love stone” as it is a traditional wedding gift.  It is also known as the “blood stone” for its properties in staunching bleeding, and curing blood disorders.  Both of these terms have their origin in the lore of the pomegranate, and millennia of wonder for this beauteous gemstone.

Etymology:    Garnet is derived from the latin for the luscious pomegranate (malum garanatum).  Pomegranate is the love fruit in mythology (read on below), and the juicy rich red of “carbuncles” (yes, garnets were once known as carbuncles!) adorns many a priceless royal jewel.

Varieties:    The garnet group presents a vast array of rich, velvety, deeply saturated natural colors - Red, Green, Yellow, Orange, Brown, Pink, Purple, Gray, Black — and the six sexy species are pyrope, almandine, spessartite, grossularite, uvarovite and andradite.

Varietals include almandine (red with violet tint), green andradite, urgandite and uvarovite, pyrope (red with brown tint), hessonite (a cinnamon to yellow grossular garnet), spessartite (red to orange).  The color change garnet (pyrope-spessartite) is of particular beauty.  You can check out specifics in the table below.

History:    From its earliest discovery, the Garnet has been associated with blood, the womb, and was a holy gemstone in early matriarchal societies and cult worship. Red garnets have long been associated with the “feminine”, and were a favored marriage gift in Victorian times.

 Pod Necklace with Orange Spessartite Garnets and Diamonds

Pod Necklace with Orange Spessartite Garnets and Diamonds

Thousands of years ago, red garnet necklaces adorned the necks of Egypt’s pharaohs, and 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.

Centuries later, in Roman scholar Pliny’s time (23 to 79 AD), red garnets were among the most widely traded gems. In the Middle Ages (about 475 to 1450 AD), red garnet was favored by clergy and nobility.

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 jewelry industry that reached its peak in the late 1800s.

Today, garnets are found all over the world

 Japanese Yew Leaf Ring With Madagascar Garnet

Japanese Yew Leaf Ring With Madagascar Garnet

Mythology:    In Greek mythology, a pomegranate is referenced as a gift of love and is associated with eternity (Hades had given a pomegranate to Persephone – of course, she did eat six of those seeds, naughty girl, and you know what happened!). 

Today, Garnet remains a gift of love and is traditionally given for the 19th anniversary of marriage. It may also be used as a gift for two-year and six-year anniversaries. Moreover, Garnet is symbolic of a quick return for separated lovers, since Therefore, Garnet may be given to a beloved before embarking on a trip, as it is believed to heal the broken bonds of lovers.

Properties of the “Blood Stone”

  • Antidote to poison if swallowed or worn as a poultice
  • Dissipates sadness
  • Controls incontinence
  • Averts evil thoughts and dreams
  • Foretells misfortune

1 Carbuncle was thought to be one of the four precious stones given to King Solomon by God.  The term was applied in Medieval Europe to Garnets, Rubies and Red or Watermelon Tourmalines.


2 Garnet Varieties:

Almandine (or Almandite) Garnet

Iron aluminum silicate, typically red with a violet tint. 

Andradite Garnet

Calcium iron silicate, the andradite group includes demantoid, melanite and topazolite. 

Color-Change Garnet

A mix of spessartite and pyrope garnet. This rare garnet presents a color change from brownish or orange in daylight, to rose-pink in incandescent light. 

Demantoid Garnet

A type of andradite garnet that is the most valuable of all the garnets, due to its outstanding luster and dispersion. 

Grossularite (or Grossular) Garnet

Calcium aluminum silicate, the grossular group includes grossularite, hessonite, leuco, hydrogrossular and tsavorite garnet. 

Hessonite Garnet

A type of grossular garnet that is often called cinnamon stone for its brownish-red color. 

Hydrogrossular Garnet

A type of grossular green garnet that is dense and opaque, resembling jade. 

Leuco Garnet

A type of grossular garnet that is entirely colorless. 

Mali Garnet

One of the hybrid garnets, Mali is a mixture of grossular and andradite garnet. It is green in color with excellent luster and dispersion. 

Melanite Garnet

An opaque black variety of andradite garnet. 

Pyrope Garnet

Magnesium aluminum silicate, typically red with a brownish tint. 

Rhodolite Garnet

One of the hybrid garnets, rhodolite is a mixture of pyrope and almandite garnet. Colors range from ruby-red to purple. 

Spessartite (or Spessartine) Garnet

Magnesium aluminum silicate, typically mandarin-orange to orange-red. 

Star Garnet

Garnets that display asterism (the star affect) are rare and have so far been found only in two places in the world (Idaho, USA and India). 

Topazolite Garnet

A type of andradite garnet that is yellow to lemon-yellow in color. Its similarity to yellow topaz is the reason for its name. 

Tsavorite Garnet

A type of grossular garnet colored by chrome, resulting in a bright-green to emerald-green color. The second most valuable of all the garnets. 

Uvarovite Garnet

Calcium chromium silicate, typically emerald-green. It is rarely found in gemstone quality.

Posted on January 6, 2015 .