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What is Garnet?

Garnet, January’s birthstone, is most commonly recognized as a dark, deep red gemstone also known as almandine. However, people are surprised to learn garnet actually can be found in a diverse set of colors. Garnet’s rainbow-like collection features gems in lime green, orange, pinkish red, golden yellow, deep red, and even a purplish red. The chemical combinations within the minerals and the colorful variety distinguish garnet from other gemstones.

Raw Garnet by Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0

Garnet’s Eloquent Past

Garnet’s rich history began over 3,000 years ago in ancient Egypt. Believed to have spiritual healing powers, the gem was worn by pharaohs and buried with mummified bodies for the afterlife. Garnet was also a prominent stone during the ancient Roman Empire all the way to the Victorian era. Roman signet rings used to stamp wax seals were often made from garnet, and were especially popular among the clergy and the nobility during the Middle Ages. It is believed that the gem’s name derived from the Latin word granatum, or seed, because of its resemblance to the pomegranate seed.

Garnet’s Effects on Jewelry

Because garnet is such a diverse gem, it has been used for a variety of jewelry pieces and has stood for many symbolic meanings, including calmness, friendship, trust, and love. When polished, the stone can emit optical phenomena, which makes the gem even more desired by collectors and jewelers alike. For instance, a garnet gem with an asterism will inwardly reflect a star-shaped pattern. A garnet with chatoyancy, or cat’s eye, has a sleek, velvety sheen. On average, the gem has a 6.5 to 7.5 hardness according to the  Mohs scale.  This means that the gem is relatively hard and durable, and can easily last generations with proper care.

Garnet is most commonly found in Africa, Sri Lanka, India, and Czechoslovakia. A January birthday isn’t complete without a beautifully rich garnet red or the rarer lime green color, tsavorite. Explore the diverse rainbow assortment of garnet stones to decide which best suits your personality.