January Birthstone Garnet

January's Birthstone Garnet

As the new year rings in let's look at the birthstone for the month of January, garnet.

The word "garnet" comes from the Latin word granatus for seed or grain, most likely a reference to the seeds of the pomegranate fruit. Indeed, some garnets do resemble pomegranate seeds in color, size, and shape.

Garnet is a material composed of silicate materials that belong to the nesosilicate group - they are typically formed in metamorphic rocks (extreme heat and pressure). When most people think of garnets they think of brownish red to red stones, but garnets actually come in every color of the rainbow. Garnet is a group of minerals that is made up of six species: pyrope, almandine, spessartine, grossular, andradite, and uvarovite. All garnets crystallize in the cubic system, but the chemical compositions vary. The hardness of a garnet ranges between 7.5 and 8.5 on the Mohs scale.

Thousands of years ago, red garnet necklaces adorned the necks of Egypt’s pharaohs, and were entombed with their mummified corpses as prized possessions for the afterlife. In ancient Rome, signet rings with carved garnets were used to stamp the wax that secured important documents. Centuries later, in Roman scholar Pliny’s time (23 to 79 AD), red garnets were among the most widely traded gems. In the Middle Ages (about 475 to 1450 AD), red garnet was favored by clergy and nobility. 

Today, because of its hardness, garnets are used to make a number of products, including sanding belts, discs, and strips. Garnets are also used as an abrasive blasting material, for water filtration, in a process called water jet cutting, and to make abrasive powders.

The meaning of a garnet in an engagement ring symbolizes love, passion, vitality, lasting friendship, and protection. This means your marriage will be strong and you devote yourselves to protecting one another, as garnets channel the strength and vitality of fire. Garnets are thought to enhance creativity and inspire passion and motivation. Garnet is believed to boost self-confidence and help individuals feel more assertive and in control.


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