January Birthstone: Garnet
Color: This durable stone occurs in many colors: pyrope, red/purple; spessartite, orange; tsavorite and demantoid, green; and almandite, brown are all members of the garnet family.
Origins: Almandine is found in the gem gravels of Sri Lanka. Demantoid was discovered in the 1850s in Russia. Spessartite is mined in Namibia, Nigeria, Brazil, Myanmar, Mozambique and the United States. Hessonite is manly found in Sri Lanka and India but has also been found in Brazil and the United States. Tsavorite is a relatively new member of the garnet family. It was discovered in Tanzania in 1967 and is only found in Africa and Madagascar.
History: The name is derived from the Latin word granatus meaning grain. This refers to the typically rounded shape of garnet and also reminiscent of the seeds of the pomegranate.
• These stones were considered to symbolize faith, constancy and truth by ancient people as well as having strong curative powers.
• At the auction of the Estate of Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis at Sotheby’s in 1996, a cabochon garnet flower brooch from the 19th century was sold for $145,000.
• In central Australia a university student unearthed what is believed to be the largest single garnet ever found. This giant rough is thought to weigh thousands of tons and measures nearly a hundred feet across.
• The red/purple Almandine gemstone is the most common form of garnet. Almandine garnets were used in ornamentation during the Bronze Age and many ancient jewelry and crowns use these garnets.
• Demantoid is the most valuable garnet and one of the most brilliant. It has a higher dispersion than a diamond and its name means diamond in Dutch.
• Spessartite gems are sometimes called Mandarin garnets because their orange-yellow color was highly prized by the ancient ruling class Chinese.
• Hessonite is often called the cinnamon stone because of its similar color to the spice.
• The deep green stone, tsavorite is believed to be 200 times more rare than emerald.
• Garnet is the state mineral of Connecticut and the state gemstone of New York.
Hardness: 7 to 7.5
Care: Clean your garnet with warm soapy water and a soft brush. Always make sure you rinse the stone well after washing it. Ultrasonic treatments may also be used for any garnets except the demantoid variety. Do not steam clean your garnet and protect it from sharp blows, harsh temperatures and chemicals