Garnet - January birthstone

If your birthday is in January, your birthstone is the Garnet. Traditionally, the Garnet has symbolized passion and vitality. Although this gemstone is most often a beautiful reddish brown, the Garnet is in fact highly versatile and comes in many colors, including orange, yellow, green, violet, black, brown, red, pink, and purple. There are even colorless Garnet stones. Different types of Garnet stones have different colors. For example, African Tsavorite and Russian Demantoid, both of which are considered part of the Garnet family, are a brilliant green. Bohemian Garnet, on the other hand, is a vibrant red. Garnets are part of one of the largest families of gemstones, which accounts for the wide variety of stones available. There are number of species of Garnet stones, including uvarovite, grossular, andradite, pyrope, almandine, and spessartine, among others. Some Garnets are actually a mixture of two or more of these species. In addition to species, there are a variety of types of Garnets, including Pyrope (also known as the Cape Ruby or Bohemian garnet), Andradite, Rhodolite, Almandine, Spessartine, Grossular (which is sometimes called the Gooseberry Garnet or grossularite), Carbuncle, Hessonite (also known as the Cinnamon stone or essonite), Topazolite, Uvarovite and demantoid (also known as the Uralian emerald).

The Garnet gemstone is actually a common silicate mineral. Whatever color Garnet you are considering, all Garnet stones have similar chemical compositions and structures. Despite that, though, some have an opaque look, while others are translucent. In most cases, you will have the easiest time finding bright red Garnet stones. These are usually semi-precious pyropes.

In the time of the ancient Greeks, Garnets got their name from the fact that the deep red color of some Garnets reminded the Greeks of the pomegranate seed or granatum. However, Garnets predate the Greek civilization. Use of the gemstone is traced back to 3100 BC, when Egyptain artisans created beautiful jewelry with Garnet beads and stones. Since the stones are hard and abrasive, they have been used since ancient times as abrasives and even as bullets in some Asian nations. In the late 1800s, brooches and bracelets featuring Garnet became very popular.

For many years, Garnets have been prized for their healing powers. Some believed that the stones helped cure blood deficiency diseases, arthritis pain, rheumatism, bloodstream problems, and problems with the pituitary gland. Garnet was also linked to helping ease depression, fever, and problems with the spleen. Many people wore -- and some even continue to wear - Garnets to promote overall good health. Some wore the Garnet as a form of protection while traveling.

When selecting your Garnet, look for a color that pleases you, and take a good look at the clarity of the stone as well. Some Garnets have little veins inside them while others are perfectly clear. Others are more opaque. You'll want to choose the Garnet that most appeals to you. Once you have your gemstone or jewelry home, be sure to clean your Garnet only with a dry, soft cloth. You'll want to protect your stone from scratches, harsh chemicals, extreme temperature, and sharp blows.