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The John Atencio Jewelry Glossary The John Atencio Jewelry Glossary
Glossary › Garnet

Glossary: Garnet

January Birthstone: Garnet

Intriguing and versatile, garnet looks beautiful in a variety of jewelry pieces. It also has unique characteristics and fascinating lore that make it a popular option for gemstone jewelry.

What Is January’s Birthstone?

January’s birthstone, garnet is known for its deep, compelling hues. Although garnets are typically associated with the color red, these gems can actually be found in just about any color. The garnet family is among the most complex in the gemstone world. Contrary to common belief, it isn’t actually a single species, but a collection of several different species and varieties.

Garnet includes several affordable deep red varieties, valuable, rare greens, and diverse colors in between. The gemstone’s clarity often depends on the type. Red garnets tend to have few, if any, eye-visible inclusions. Garnets can be found in virtually any size and weight, although some types are rare in large sizes. Many garnet gemstones are cut into standard shapes and specific sizes so they can be set in commercially manufactured jewelry.

All garnets have basically the same crystal structure. That said, they can vary in chemical composition. There are actually more than 20 categories of garnet, but only five are commercially viable as gems. Those five are almandine (also known as almandite), pyrope, spessartine, andradite and grossular (grossularite). A sixth species known as uvarovite is a green type of garnet that typically occurs as crystals that are too tiny to cut. Still, uvarovite is sometimes set as clusters in jewelry pieces. Many garnet gemstones are also chemical mixtures of two or more species of garnet.

Found in metamorphic rocks all over the world, red garnet is one of the most abundant and widespread gems. But not every type of garnet is as abundant as the red varieties. Tsavorite, for example, is a type of green garnet that’s much rarer because it requires special conditions and unusual rock chemistries to form.

History and Lore

The Latin word for seed, garnet received its name thanks to its resemblance to the deeply colored pomegranate seed. For millennia, the stones have been coveted by nobles, kings and emperors alike, thanks mostly to the gem’s vibrant beauty.

Centuries ago, January birthstone necklaces with garnets adorned the necks of the famous Egyptian pharaohs. They were also often entombed with mummified corpses as prized gems for the afterlife. In the ancient Rome Empire, signet rings adorned with carved garnets were used to stamp the melted wax that sealed important documents.

Around 23 AD to 79 AD during Roman scholar Pliny's lifetime, red garnets were among the most treasured and widely traded gems. During the Middle Ages, red garnet was especially favored by clergy and nobility. The gemstone’s availability increased with the famous discovery of the Bohemian garnet deposits in 1500 around central Europe. This gemstone source became the nucleus of a rich local jewelry industry that lasted into the late 1800s.

Garnet Birthstone Jewelry

Thought to ignite joy and passion, garnet birthstones yield gorgeous jewelry pieces and intriguing alternative engagement rings. Thought to symbolize love, life and victory in many cultures throughout the world, these gorgeous gemstones have an impressive Mohs rating of between 7.5 and 8.5 which makes them suitable for everyday wear.

From ruby red to smoky brown, these radiant gems look lovely paired with gemstones of contrasting colors. Available in modern and antique-inspired settings, garnets also look gorgeous paired with glittering luxe diamond accents.

Garnet birthstone rings bring intriguing color to alternative engagement ring designs, especially when they’re upgraded with luxe diamond accents. Set in timeless yellow gold, January birthstone rings sparkle with classic glamor. The bold, earthy gemstone also provides scintillating shimmer when set in icy white gold. Not to be outdone, blush rose gold settings deliver romantic warmth accentuated by garnet’s alluring dark hue.

Garnet birthstone necklaces, bracelets and earrings make great gifts. They also look beautiful when combined with brilliant white diamonds and other gemstone combinations.

At John Atencio, we provide an intriguing selection of artfully crafted gemstone jewelry pieces. Visit one of our convenient locations and let our knowledgeable experts guide you to the ideal jewelry piece.