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January Birthstone: Garnet
Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January & anniversary gemstone for the second year of marriage. Garnet derives its name from the Latin word granatus, meaning like a grain. This is a reference to the way garnets appear as grains or seeds embedded in the matrix.

The garnet is actually a family of gems rather than a single gemstone. They are found in large quantity and in fine qualities, so a wide selection is available at affordable prices. Garnet is found in every color of the spectrum except blue. Colors range from deep ruby red to emerald green.

This family of stones has been dubbed the gem of faith, constancy and truth. Asian tribes carved garnets into bullets in the belief that their fiery color would inflict more deadly wounds. They were ground into powder for the treatment of fever or jaundice.

The best known members of this family are the deep red almandine and pyrope garnets. The almandine is what most people think of when garnet is mentioned, and is the type we use in our jewelry at Whirled Planet. It is a dark red with a slightly brownish or violet tinge. The pyrope tends to have less brown in it.

Another variety, rhodolite, was widely used in Greece during the period between the reign of Alexander the Great and the conquest of Rome. Alexander popularized the cutting of cameos from precious stones, and rhodolite was ideal for this purpose. Engravers created a button shape (flat bottom with rounded top) in which to carve their artwork. This was the forerunner of the ever popular cabochon shape seen in jewelry to this day.

Spessartite trends into oranges in a variety of shades from tangerine to cinnamon. In the late 1960's a new species of garnet was discovered. Tsavorite, named after the Tsavo region of Africa, resembles a fine green emerald. This type of garnet is increasingly rare and therefore costly. The very rare demantoid variety of andradite is an emerald green with a diamond-like fire. Uvarovite garnet may also be emerald green, but it is found only in tiny sizes. Grossularite, another variety of garnet, resembles fine jade.

Fashions come and go but garnet is always popular. Beyond its designation as a birthstone and anniversary stone, it is a versatile gem. Whether with denim, lace or black velvet, garnet is often the perfect match. You can find garnet in almost every design of jewelry on our site.

To get an idea of the designs we offer in this popular stone, click here.

(This article written by Mike McGinnis and published originally on indiasilver.com. We allow republication provided the piece is copied in its entirety with links and attribution.)

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