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Birthstones: Garnet

Garnet ~ January Birthstone

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A variety of Garnet’s many colors.

A variety of Garnet’s many colors.


Garnet is the birthstone for January and the stone that celebrates the 2nd anniversary of marriage. Garnet is considered to be the birthstone for Capricorn (The sign of the Goat) and relate to those born between December 22 - January 20.

Member of: Garnet Supergroup

Name: Named from granatum (a pomegranate) for its resemblance to seeds of this fruit.

Garnet is the classical name for a group of silicate minerals with the same structure, but differ in chemical composition.


X = Ca, Fe, etc.
Z = Al, Cr, etc.

In traditional and petrological use the name 'garnet' usually refers to these six minerals:

Almandine Fe2+3Al2(SiO4)3 (Deep red with brown undertone)

Pyrope Mg3Al2(SiO4)3 (Intense deep red to purple and violet from iron colorants)

Spessartine Mn2+3Al2(SiO4)3 (Orange, red to brown from manganese orange colorants)

Andradite Ca3Fe3+2(SiO4)3 (Include the green Demantoid with chromium and iron as the green colorants, the yellow Topazolite with manganese yellow/orange colorants and black Melanite)

Grossular Ca3Al2(SiO4)3 (Ranges in color from light to dark yellow, gold, orange, scarlet and red, with the more popular shades being green)

Uvarovite Ca3Cr2(SiO4)3 (Deep green)

For the mineral localities explore mindat’s page on the Garnet Supergroup
Visit gemdat.org for gemological information about Garnet Group.


The traditional color associated with the garnet is the deep red color and was strongly favored as a popular gem in Victorian jewelry. The meaning of colors through the ages represented many aspects of life. Social, religious, biblical and Christian symbolism were all reflected in the color Red! The symbolic meaning of the color red was was of fire and was associated with power and importance.

When asked what color is garnet, most people would say red. This is very far from reality. The January birthstone is not just confined to the deep red color, garnets can be found in nearly all other colors including orange, yellow, green, purple, brown, black, and colorless. One nature’s miracles are the incredible vast array of colors that garnets can posses, which is unparalleled in any gemstone species except tourmaline. The only color garnet has not been found in is the color blue. In the past 40 years spectacular garnet discoveries have been made of new fabulous colors, mainly in Africa. Garnets can occur in all colors except for blue. The supply of these new garnet gemstones is ample and ever expanding. Garnets have become a mainstay and favorite of high end jewelry designers. Garnets are also one of the most interesting and complex gem species in nature, consisting of more than ten different gemstones of very similar chemical makeups. All of the different garnet gemstones offer excellent hardness, 7.5 on the Mohs scale, posses no cleavage but what is most wonderful about them is their high refractive index. This is the reason that the fine Tsavorite can rival the finest emeralds and the fiery brilliance of a spessartite garnet is as mesmerizing as the best sunsets. 


Garnet is believed to protect its wearer from evil and disaster. Garnet is known to have an energizing and invigorating effect on the libido and intimacy in general. Garnets, at various times, have been known as the stone of Warriors, and as a stone of Conquerors, including but not limited to romantic conquests.  It’s been documented by King Louis XIV’s wife, that her husband used garnets placed directly upon his genitals as a cure for a lacking sex drive and impotence. Garnet is said to heighten sex-drive, and re-energize the entire sexual system.  But it isn’t just about boosting sex-drive, it is more about balancing all aspects of intimacy and love, the emotional, spiritual and physical.  This gives garnets their reputation for stones of love and passion. Part of what garnet does for relationships is it creates an energy of positive commitment and devotion.  It boosts loyalty, love, honesty and compassion.  It re-energizes a relationship and/or friendship with hope and faithfulness.  It assists the bearer in seeing a person for who they truly are, and it helps bring about emotional harmony to all who come in contact with its energy.  Lore says that garnet can help a mourning widow find new love.


A thriving garnet jewelry and cutting industry based on the very popular red pyrope garnets was started in Czechoslovakia in 1500. Until the nineteenth century it was the world’s largest source of gem garnets. These fiery red pyrope garnets were very popular in Victorian jewelry. The discovery of a bright green Grossular garnet in East Africa in the late 1960’s that was named “Tsavorite” by the Tiffany’s jewelry firm that also named and popularized the blue lavender zoisite gemstone as Tanzanite. This very exciting discovery brought the gemstone and jewelry industries a new color of garnet that can rival emerald in its luminescent green color. The discovery of a fiery orange variety of spessartite garnet on the Angola-Namibian border in the 1980’s also rocked the gemstone and jewelry world. The incredible radiant orange garnet, the likes of which had never been seen before was a major development in bringing garnet to the forefront of exciting gemstones.

Garnet gemstones have been used in jewelry and other ways for many thousands of years. According to the ancient Jewish text the Talmud, a garnet provided the only source of light on Noah's Ark. Garnet jewelry has been found in Egyptian, Greek and Roman ruins. Garnet was also a symbol of one of the original 12 tribes of Israel, is one of the twelve stones associated with the breastplate of the high priest Aaron, and a birthstone. Some Asiatic tribes fashioned garnets into bullets believing that they would be more lethal than lead bullets.

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