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January Birthstone - Garnet

The December birthstone garnet gets its name from the medieval Latin word granatus, meaning “pomegranate,” due to its red colour that resembles the fruit's seeds. Garnets have been used as gemstones and abrasives since the Bronze Age, with ancient Egyptians adorning themselves with necklaces studded with red garnets, and ancient Romans using garnet intaglios on signet rings for important documents. The Middle Ages saw a preference for red garnets among the clergy and nobility.

Garnet is a group of minerals that includes five important gemstones: pyrope, almandine, spessartine, grossular, and andradite. Pyrope and almandine range from purple to red, while spessartine comes in oranges and yellows, and andradite is mostly yellow to green (also known as demantoid). Grossular has the widest range of colours, from colourless to yellow, reddish orange, and orangy red, as well as a strong green called tsavorite.

One of the most famous pieces of garnet jewellery is the Smithsonian’s antique pyrope hair comb, featuring a large rose-cut garnet at the crest. This tiara-like jewel is adorned with pyrope garnets from historic mines in Bohemia, which were popular during the Victorian era (1837–1901).

Garnet is believed to help eliminate negative feelings like depression and guilt while promoting self-confidence, mental clarity, and creative thinking, according to Indian astrology. In ancient and medieval times, garnet and other gems were also thought to have healing properties for inflammatory diseases and to soothe the angry heart.

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