23 Fascinating Facts About January's Birthstone

History, Folklore, and Facts

Rhodolite garnet between silver tweezers
Reimphoto / Getty Images

January's birthstone is garnet, a deep red stone associated with romance and passion. Along with being a favored gemstone, garnet has multiple industrial uses due to its availability and versatility as a mineral. It also comes in a rainbow of colors.

As a gemstone, garnet is abundant and affordable, but it can also be expensive and rare. We recommend familiarizing yourself with common garnet varieties and learn a thing or two before purchasing. This knowledge can make the difference between buying a run of the mill garnet and investing in a garnet birthstone that is one of a kind.

We're exploring some interesting garnet facts that will start to unravel how garnet became so popular and why it has such a large range of values.

Garnet Buying Information

garnet buying information
Johanes Minawan Laksana / Getty Images
  1. Garnet is commonly known as a gemstone, but it actually defines a mineral group consisting of stones with similar chemical and physical properties. The main types of garnet include almandine, andradite, grossularite, pyrope, spessartine, and uvarovite.
  2. Almandine is the most common type of garnet that includes reddish-brown gemstones. These are relatively inexpensive and easy to find.
  3. Pyrope garnets are blood red in color and typically lack inclusions. They are generally more expensive and desirable than almandine garnets.
  4. Another popular variety of garnet is rhodolite, which is a purplish red pyrope and almandine mix.
  5. Demantoid garnets are a transparent green variety of andradite garnets and are by far the most expensive and rare. They are prized for their fiery nature because they are able to disperse more light than a diamond.
  6. While not all garnet types are suitable for gemstone and jewelry use, the smaller crystals are collected in rough form as mineral specimens.
  7. Garnet comes in every color of the rainbow, except in shades of blue.
  1. If you want to give garnet as a gift, consider it for a second or sixth wedding anniversary. It is the traditional stone for these occasions.

Garnet Care

garnet care
lissart / Getty Images
  1. Garnet ranges between 6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness depending on the variety. Remember that anything with a harder Mohs rating will be able to scratch the surface of a garnet.
  2. The majority of garnets are sold without any additional treatments. There is a vast supply of garnet that is saturated enough that it doesn't warrant being altered, which is ideal for people who want natural gemstones without paying a fortune.
  3. There are garnet simulants on the market made from glass. Some antique pieces of jewelry used dark red glass instead of garnets, so you should always have antique jewelry tested for authenticity.

Garnet History

garnet history
jonnysek / Getty Images
  1. This gemstone has been found in jewelry from the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans.
  2. Garnet is associated with pomegranate seeds and comes from the Latin word 'garanatus,' meaning seed-like.
  3. Czechoslovakia was one of the largest garnet jewelry producers and manufacturers from the 14th through 19th centuries. Bohemian garnets are usually dark and fiery and were commonly set in flower-like clusters.
  4. Garnet was one of the most popular gemstones used during the Victorian era.
  5. While garnet has been used in jewelry for thousands of years, it has only recently been used for industrial purposes over the last 150 years.

Garnet Symbolism

garnet symbolism
halock / Getty Images
  1. As a passion stone, garnet has been a longstanding symbol of love and friendship.
  2. If you are to be parted from a lover, give the gift of garnet. According to Greek mythology and the story of Persophone and Hades, garnet symbolizes a quick and safe return of love. It is also thought to symbolize the mending of wounds between lovers.

Garnet Healing Properties

garnet healing properties
Reimphoto / Getty Images
  1. Over the years, lots of different healing practices have been associated with garnet. Some older traditions target physical ailments and some more widely used techniques target mental issues. Take these anecdotes with a grain of salt and don't let them replace medical intervention when needed.
  2. The redness of garnet has been linked with blood and has been used in treating a variety of skin, blood, and inflammation disorders throughout history.
  3. As part of a healing tradition, red garnet has been used to alleviate depression and stimulate the heart. With the help of a crystal healer, the stone does this by dissipating old ingrained habits and thought patterns that are no longer beneficial.
  4. Garnet is often associated with the heart, which makes it an ideal stone for stimulating one's endurance, strength, and vitality.
  5. Can garnet heal a broken heart? Perhaps not. However, according to some crystal healers, garnet can be a powerful ally in self-awareness. This introspection encourages truth and assertiveness, which in turn helps with relationship building.