January Birthstone

10 January 2023

The idea of a birthstone comes from a biblical reference in Exodus where Aaron wore a breastplate with 12 different stones each representing a different tribe of Israel.  In Hindu traditions, the Ratna Pariksah shows the relationships between gemstones and dieties.  These nine stones each represent a different celestial force.  Centuries ago in Central Europe the trend began to give birthstone jewelry as a way to celebrate an occasion.  Frequently you can see a grandmother’s necklace, bracelet or other item with stones representing each of her grandchildren.

With this in mind, each month this year, we will feature the stone or stones associated with the particular month.  In 1912 the National Association of Jewelers met and designated precious and semi-precious stones for each month.  In some cases, these have been upd ated over the years.  Let’s see what fun this can be.

The garnet represents January.

Commonly red, garnets can also be found in orange, yellow, purple, green, and some that will change from blue to purple in the right light.  The feeling is that a garnet birthstone wil bring good health, wealth, and happiness.

The word garnet comes from a Latin extraction that means pomegranate.  It is actually a combination of several minerals of which five are considered important…pyrope, almandine, spessertine, grossular, and andrite.  Pyrope and almandine are generally purple to red; spessartine is orange or yellow, and andralite varies from yellow to green.  Grossular ranges from almost colorless through the yellows through oranges and a bit of red; when it is green, it is called tsavorite.

Garnet can be found in a number of different countries and regions.  In the Victorian era most came from Bohemia as red pyrope.  Today it is mined in African countries of Namibia (demantoids); Kenya, Tanzania, and Madagascar (bright green tsavorites); and Namibia and Tanzania are sources for spessartine garnets.  The Little Three mining area in southern California produced garnets.  They can also be found in Myanmar (formerly Burma), Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka.

Their price will range begin at $500 per carat with a good color but with some imperfections.  The cost will go for $2,000 to $7,000 per carat based on size and clarity.  Demantoids are the rarest and the most expensive.

The “special powers” attributed to the garnet are to encourage self confidence and mental clarity as well as to reduce negative feelings.  In short, to make you feel better about yourself emotionally.  It symbolizes love, faith, and loyalty.  It is thought to increase energy levels.  It is often associated with love, and energy.  Some feel it restores balance and energy.  It is linked to the heart.

In terms of hardness, the garnet is not nearly as strong as a ruby or sapphire and generally are not recommended to be worn on a daily basis.  Because of this, you need to use care when storing them so that they do not get scratched by a harder stone.  Before turning into jewelry some stones are treated, but not the garnet.  If it does become damaged and cracked, a professional can help by using a glass-like material to fill it in and make it look better.

If necessary, clean the stones in warm, soapy water and use a soft brush.  You can also use one of those ultrasonic cleaners, but not if the stone has been repaired.  Don’t use steam.

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