January’s birthstone is the bold, stunning garnet. While it’s best known for its signature deep red color, the garnet comes in many different colors.
Its name comes from the Latin “granatum,” meaning seed, because of its similarity to the seeds of the pomegranate. Garnets were the most widely-used gemstone in Europe during the Bronze Age and the early Middle Ages. Many famous artifacts including jewelry, ornaments, and weapons made with beautiful garnet inlay have been found in ancient burials and in Anglo-Saxon treasure hoards. They were also very popular during the Victorian Era. Garnets come primarily from Africa, India, Russia & Eastern Europe, and South America.
Garnet has an especially luminous color and a high reflective power. According to legend, Noah steered the ark through the darkness with the light of a garnet lantern. This birthstone symbolizes loyalty and faithfulness; it is said to ensure its wearer victory and protection and has long been worn by travelers as a talisman on long journeys. It was also believed to promote the health of the heart – just like its namesake, the pomegranate.
Garnet jewelry is the perfect touch to add warmth and luster to the coldest month of the year. It requires no special care, but you can help it keep its brilliance by cleaning it gently with mild soapy water. It is a hard stone but can be damaged by extreme temperatures and acidic substances. Remember to store your garnet pieces where they will not be scratched by harder stones like diamonds and sapphires.
American Gem Society: Garnets