IF you were born in January, then garnet is your birthstone. But what is it? Where does garnet come from? And why is it said to January babes luck, love and health?
What is garnet?
Garnet is a mineral. It includes gemstones that come in almost every color. Red garnet is the most popular one for jewellery because of its intense hue and sparkle.
Garnets in a range of colours | Image credit GIA.com
History linked to royalty
Garnet is a legendary precious stone. In Egypt, archaeologists have discovered garnet amulets in the tombs of pharaohs. In Rome, it was typical for noble patriarchs to have carved signet rings made from garnet. Ancient Persians only allowed their kings to own and wear garnets.
What make red garnet so special?
Red garnet usually comes in red-orange, red-brown or purple hues. Garnets are known for their captivating sparkle, referred to as “fire”. This effect is at its best in soft lighting, like candles.
Red garnet and pink sapphire ring
How hard is garnet?
Garnet ranks 6.5 – 7.5 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. To give you an idea, diamonds rate 10 and talc scores 1. While garnet jewellery is fairly durable, you should handle it with care. Avoid knocks, and store it separately so that harder gems like diamonds don’t scratch it.
Where is it found?
Garnet deposits are found all over the world. Some of the biggest mines are in Africa, South America and Russia. India is one of the biggest producers of red garnets.
Antique Indian nose jewellery with garnets | Image Wikipedia.com
Why the name?
The gemstone’s name comes from the Latin word “granatus”, meaning “seeds”. Clusters of garnet crystals resemble the red seeds inside a pomegranate.
Here you can see pomegranate seeds on the left and garnet crystals on the right.
On the LEFT pomegranate seeds, on the RIGHT red garnet gemstones in the rough
Birthstone myth and lore
As the birthstone for January, garnet is said to bring love, luck, health, loyalty and friendship. It is also the gem traditionally gifted on 2nd and 18th wedding anniversaries. Some other garnet beliefs include:
♦ During the Roman Empire people believed garnets protected travellers. If a garnet sparkled, it was a warning of approaching danger.
♦ The ancient Chinese said that a red garnet represented a tiger’s soul that had transformed into a precious gem after the animal’s death.
♦ Navajo Indians in Utah, USA, used garnets as adornments to bring luck and protection.
8th century sword hilt | Image Daniel Buxton, Wikipedia.com
Garnet and modern celebrities
Before she got engaged to Prince William, Catherine Middleton often wore a pearl and garnet gold ring. The press frequently speculated whether it was a gift from Prince William. Garnet is the Duchess’ birthstone, born on 8th January.
Garnet as a gift
Red garnet is an affordable and beautiful gemstone. It naturally occurs as big, clear crystals. So its a good choice for showstopping jewellery pieces. If garnet is your birthstone, it will hold special significance for you and is worth including in your jewellery collection.
See more garnet jewellery at TheDiamondStore.co.uk.
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