Traditional Birthstone: Garnet
Modern Birthstones: Moss Agate, Opal, or Sugilite
January Birthstone - Garnet
Garnets aren’t just the dark red of your Grandmother’s jewelry. They come in a rich palette of colors: greens, oranges, pinkish oranges, deeply saturated purplish reds, and even some blues with color change.
Thousands of years ago, red garnets adorned Egyptian Pharaohs; Romans used them as signet rings to seal important documents. In the 1500s there was a discovery of Bohemian garnet deposits which adorned jewelry until the late 1800s. Since then, red garnets have fallen out of favor, they are generally less valued. That being said, most people are unaware that Pyrope garnets (red) color can rival ruby’s red!
Rhodolite Garnet was first discovered in the United States, in North Carolina to be exact. This is the most valuable of the red garnets. It has a lovely, vibrant purplish red hue. It can range from a purplish raspberry red to a light reddish purple.
There are more than twenty garnet species; some are the most valuable gems in the market place. Russians discovered Demantoid garnets (green) in the Ural Mountains in the mid-1800s.This Russian garnet has an interesting inclusion, called a horsetail. Horsetails are not found in any other green stones and since horsetail inclusions can increase Russian Demantoid’s value, cutters strive to display them. These garnets have a higher dispersion than a diamond! Czar Nicholas II commissioned his finest artists to create elaborate jewelry for his wife. Carl Faberge’s pieces for the Russian royal family have Demantoid garnets in them. A 4ct, oval cut Russian Demantoid at auction in 1998 went for $48,000. At that time $4,000 was considered a high price for a Demantoid.
Tsavorite garnet discovered in the 1960s is one of today’s most important green gemstones. Because of its growth structure, almost 85 percent of all Tsavorite rough yield cut stones of less than a carat. The green color is comparative with emerald, it is less included and more durable and seldom treated, so the color it is in the ground is the color you see in your jewelry.
Spessartite Garnets were discovered in the 1960s, they can range in color from yellowish orange through bright orange (like a popular soft drink), to an “aurora” red which is highly saturated, slightly reddish- orange hue. A great colored orange garnet will disappear in a dish of that popular soda.
According to the Bible, in the book of Exodus, the breastplate of Aaron has a setting of stones, even four rows: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle. A carbuncle is an ancient term for what was probably a ruby or a garnet.
Garnet is believed to aid blood, heart and lungs and is thought to promote romantic love, passion, sensuality, and intimacy. So, if you were thinking that your January birthstone is dull and unassuming, think again!