Fresh Starts Start with Diversity: An Examination into January's Birth Stone the Garnet

Garnet Gemstone History January birth Stone Jewelry Jewelry blog Jewelry Care Jewelry Education Jewelry Knowledge Jewelry Library Jewels LJ & Diamonds Semi-precious stone Stone Stone blog Stone Library Stones

Classification:  Semi-Precious Stone
Colour: Almost all colours (most common red)
Hardness: 6.5-7.5
Fluorescence: None
Transparency: Transparent-translucent


History and Lore

Garnet History

A new year makes for a new start. And what better way to start the new year than with one of the most underrated and diverse gemstones, the garnet. Fun fact, the name “garnet” comes from the medieval Latin granatus which. interestingly enough translates to “pomegranate”, no doubt in reference to the common red colour of the stone and the roundness of its raw state. In Greek mythology pomegranates were often used as gifts of love and symbols of eternity, which has led to us using the granatus’ as a 2nd year wedding anniversary presents. Aw, sweet!

While we see the garnet today as a simple and rather insignificant stone, in actuality the jewel has a deep and meaningful history. Garnets are ancient stones whose use dates back as far as 3000 B.C. The pharaohs of ancient Egypt wore garnet embellished necklaces. The Greeks saw the gem has protection against poison, as well as a means of preventing children from drowning, of all things.
Garnet history

Carved garnet signet rings were used by Roman noblemen to stamp the wax seals of important letters and documents. In the Medieval Ages garnets were believed to be a cure for what they called “melancholia”, which we know today as depression. They also thought the gem would cure them of nightmares and diseased livers. Indian astrology has a very similar belief, in that they believe garnets help with eliminating negative feelings, like depression and guilt, as well as reenforcing positive feelings of mental clarity and confidence. Even today in the Christian faith the blood-red stone is seen as a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice. And the Koran dictates that the garnet illuminates the Fourth Heaven. That is a pretty impressive resume.


While the deep brownish red garnet is the most common pigment, there are in fact a variety of colours available to us. “Garnet” is actually the group name of 6 differently coloured minerals:
Garnet Colours



 red with a tint of brown
red with a tint of violet
red with a tint of orange
green, yellow, copper-brown
emerald green


These 6 “species” of garnet generally dictate the colour of the stone. However, there are different subcategories of these species that are the result of blending different species together. For example, rhodolite is a variety of the garnet species pyrope. It’s described as having a rose-red colour and or a pale violet. Hessonite is a variety of the grossular garnet species that possesses the brown orange colour that gave it the charming nickname “cinnamon stone”.
While the pyrope brownish red is the most common species of garnet, the tsavorite (a variation of demantoid) is the most expensive garnet stone. With its deep and rich emerald green colour the tsavorite is truly a breathtaking piece.
Multicoloured Garnet. Garnet education

 One of the more exciting variations was just recently discovered in 1995, in the republic of Mali, which is of course why the stone was creatively named the Mali garnet *she says sarcastically *. This variation is a blend of grossular and andradite. The exciting part is the mali garnet actually changes colour, depending on the light. In bright fluorescent light it appears green while in daylight the stone shifts to reddish purple. How cool is that?




Garnets come from all over the world. Historically, most of the red pyrope garnets, commonly used in European artifacts, were supplied by Bohemia. Where even is that? Well, it’s now known as Czechoslovakia. In the Victorian age mining, treating, and setting garnets was a rich industry for the country. They were the garnet specialists. Only the best garnets came from Bohemia. Even to this day Bohemian garnets are famous for their beautiful, small cut stones, clustered together to resemble – surprise, surprise – the seeds of a pomegranate.

Faberge Egg - garnet history and origin
In the 19th century the green demantoid garnet from the Ural Mountains became a member of Russian royalty. The brilliant Russian jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé (1846-1920), AKA the guy who created the famous Fabergé eggs, often used tsavorite garnets in his pieces.
Today the majority of the world’s garnet supply comes from Africa. Garnets are also commonly exported out of Sri Lanka, Brazil, Afghanistan, Austria, and many more countries.

Specifically, the different species of garnets come from these regions:

  1. Pyrope – Czechoslovakia, USA, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Zambia, Tanzania
  2. Almandine – Sri Lanka, India, Afghanistan, Brazil, Austria, Czechoslovakia
  3. Spessartite – Sri Lanka, Brazil, USA, Malagasy Republic, Sweden
  4. Grossular – Sri Lanka, Canada, Pakistan, South Africa, Tanzania, Russia, USA
  5. Demantoid. – Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland
  6. Uvarovite – Urals, Finland, Poland, India, USA, Canada



With various types of garnets comes various levels of hardness, but on average garnets are a relatively durable stones ranging between 6.5 and 7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness. This value tells us that garnets are more susceptible to scratches, chipping, and ware and tare than more precious stones such as rubies, diamonds, and sapphires. Thus, garnets are not the best choice for daily wear and require more care than you’d expect.


Care and Maintenance

Due to the 6.5-7.5 hardness level of the January birth stone you must take proper care to clean and maintain the jewel if you want to make it last.
To properly care for all garnets the stone must not be rubbed against other harder stones like diamonds, rubies, and sapphires, so that the stone doesn’t get scratched or chipped. They should also be stored in a dark space with little to no light. Why? Because when left in the light for too long colour stones actually fade over time. To clean we recommend an ultrasonic cleaning or, to do it yourself, use lukewarm liquid soap and a SOFT toothbrush to get any dirt out of the jewelry. Steam cleaning is NOT recommended, because the heat from the steam will crack the stone. That’s a big no no.
We also recommend getting the piece inspected once or twice a year by your jeweller as a preventative measure.
Jewelry care and cleaning



Due to its label as a semi-precious stone garnets get often get overlooked and are thought of as cheaper pieces. When in reality garnets are an excitingly diverse and historically rich stones that make for a great birth stone and/or 2nd year anniversary gift. You can’t you go wrong with such a jewel.

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