januarys birthstone

Garnet: The Story Behind January’s Birthstone

Those born in January were assigned garnet as their birthstone. Although this stone is known for its deep reddish-brown color, it can actually be found in a wide spectrum of colors. This is because garnet is actually a family of gemstones, and this family has 6 very distinct members: almandine, pyrope, grossular, spessartite, andradite, and uvarovite. Within each of these members there is a very specific chemistry to the stone, but there is also a range of colors that almost each member of the family can be found in. So if you don’t like the deep red color that most people associate with garnet, you can always choose from any of the other stones in the family. Here’s the story behind January’s birthstone.

Garnet gets its name from the Latin word ‘garanatus,’ meaning seedlike. It refers specifically to pomegranate seeds. Garnet is also a very durable stone. The oldest known garnet beads were found on the corpse of a man that dates back to about 3000 BC. It’s said that Plato had his portrait engraved on garnet, and the King of Saxony owned a garnet of over 465 carats. Much like zircon – one of December’s birthstones – Januarys birthstone is said to protect its owner, particularly from nightmares and traveling accidents.  

All possibilities considered, garnet is a semiprecious stone that has carried a great variety of symbolism for a great many societies. The Greeks believed that it protected children who were in danger of drowning. The Christians have considered the stone a representation of the sacrifice of Christ. The Koran maintains that the 4th Heaven of the Muslims is illuminated by garnet, and the Old Testament claims that Noah used a glowing garnet to light his way on the Ark. However, as we evolved into the middle ages, this gemstone was believed to be a cure for depression, liver disease, and even hemorrhaging.

These days, garnet is used in fine jewelry in its various forms, and as Januarys birthstone, garnet jewelry is traditionally given as a gift for January birthdays. It is sometimes considered a proper second wedding anniversary gift, although most people consider cotton and fine china to be more appropriate.

Then again, historically, garnet was believed to have many romantic virtues. This is especially the case in regard to sexual and sensual passion. Not only was it believed to balance the sex drive, but it also aids in fertility, sexual attraction, and the ability to surrender to love. In that surrender, garnet supposedly inspires monogamous commitment and marriage stability. So if you are the superstitious type, or if you have a penchant for ancient mysticism, then garnet may just be the perfect element to incorporate in your second anniversary gift.

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