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Garnet Jewelry - The January Birthstone!

Garnet History and Meaning

Garnet has been the Birthstone for January since 1912, when the first Official Birthstone List was established by Jewelers of America (formerly known as American National Retail Jeweler’s Association). Garnet is also the gemstone gift for a 2nd wedding anniversary.

The term “garnet” comes from the Latin word “granatus” meaning pomegranate, as the stones bear a strong similarity to pomegranate seeds. In ancient times, the pomegranate represented different features of the seasons, as well as fertility and rebirth, so it is fitting that the first month of the New Year should have garnet as its birthstone. Today, garnet is said to be a symbol of everlasting friendship, power, good fortune and strength.

Garnets are considered semi-precious gems and date back to 3800 BC. Ancient Egyptians used garnet in their art and jewelry, believing it was a symbol of good health. Pharaohs wore necklaces including garnet stones, and the Romans wore signet rings with garnet intaglios which they used to stamp sealing wax on important documents.

Garnets were the preferred gemstone of clergy and nobles during the Middle Ages. They were used for trading and sourced from Bohemia during the Victorian era, and today, the continent of Africa supplies most of the world’s garnet.  

Where to Find Garnet Gemstones

One of the more common gemstones, Garnet is found on every continent in metamorphic rock. It is mined on the surface near water, not underground like other minerals. Garnet is actually composed of a group of minerals that grow together, which accounts for the diversity in color found in garnet stones.

Though often seen in deep red tones, garnets come in a rainbow of colors and several different varieties, known as species. Those with gem qualities include: pyrope, almandine, spessartine, grossular and andradite, and they range in color from clear to yellow to orange to red to purple and green.

Garnet Jewelry

Garnet Jewelry | January Birthstone


Only the highest grade garnet stones (mentioned above) are used for making jewelry. Lower grade garnet is still valuable, though, as it is hard enough to cut through steel and makes an excellent industrial abrasive when mixed with water. It can be used for sandblasting and waterjet cutting.


Garnet falls between 6.5 and 7.5 on the Moh’s Scale, making it a fairly durable stone and one that will last a long time in jewelry pieces, if cared for properly. Keep garnets away from harder stones, such as diamonds, rubies and sapphires as they may scratch a garnet’s surface if they come in contact. Also, make sure to store garnets away from opals and pearls, as garnets are hard enough to scratch the softer stones.

The safest way to keep garnets clean is to apply warm soapy water to the stone with a soft brush. Ultrasonic cleaners are generally a safe way to clean garnets, as well. Steamers are not recommended to clean garnets, particularly those that have been fracture-filled (the application of a glass-like substance to a fracture in the garnet stone to improve its appearance).

How to Choose a Piece of Garnet Jewelry

A high quality garnet stone will be clear, with no visible inclusions, and dense in color. A pendant or garnet earrings are the best choices if you plan to wear your garnet jewelry every day, as it reduces chances of damage or scratching. Garnet is relatively easy to find and reasonably priced relative to other gem stones. Garnet looks best for contemporary jewelry in silver-toned metals. Choose gold toned metals for a rich, antiqued look. Check out some options here!


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