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The Luster and Value of Garnets: January Birthstone

Updated on December 23, 2014

Garnet Pendant

If you are born in the month of January, or know someone close to your heart whose birth month is fast approaching, there are a few things you need to know about garnet—the January birthstone. It is a common choice amongst jewelers, not only because there quite a lot to go around. Garnet gemstones have properties that make them ideal for use in jewelry making. The stone is usually dark red in color, although there are also other colors associated with the mineral. Nevertheless, the deep warm red color of garnets made this gem very popular especially to collectors of antique jewelry. They are highly sought after, especially the red and green gemstones.

Highly popular gemstones

The world “garnet” is derived from the Latin “granum.” This is in reference to the shape of the crystals, which are usually round. Some of the names that have been associated with this gemstone are the following: “carbuncle stone,” New Mexico ruby, and Arizona spinel. Garnets have been used as a fashion accessory in some of the earliest human civilizations, including the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans.

The rarest of the highly valued green garnets is the Demantoid. This gemstone is more luminous than others are. In fact, it is more brilliant than a diamond. The Urals produce some of the best garnets ever found. Carl Faberge used the very best of them in the incomparable Imperial eggs commissioned by the Tsar of Russia. Today, Demantoid garnets are also found in Namibia.

Loose Garnet Stone

Garnets in jewelry making

The term “garnet” refers to not just one stone. Instead, garnet refers to a group of minerals, which are closely related to each other in terms of physical properties and chemical composition. There are ten gemstones under this category.

In jewelry making, garnets are not usually subjected to treatments such as irradiation and heat treatment. Most of the time the garnets used in fashion accessories are in their natural state. These gems do not tolerate heat very well. They are easy to work with, although the stones must not be knocked about inadvertently. They must also be worked and cut with a certain degree of finesse.

Under the skilled hands of master jewelers, garnets stones can be incorporated into some of the most exquisite jewelry creations known to man. Nevertheless, the natural properties of this gemstone render their beauty and brilliance undimmed and unequaled. Garnets have proven time and time again that they are elegant, classical choices. Indeed, they are gemstones for every fashion trend.

Sources of garnet gemstones

Currently, the world has a huge supply of garnets, although the rare green Demantoids from the Urals remain elusive to most. Aside from the continent of Africa, this gemstone is also plentiful in Brazil, India, Sri Lanka, the United States of America, and in the territories occupied by the former Soviet Union. In Tanzania in Africa, some garnets were found to have similar properties to another gem known as alexandrite, which changes color under different lighting conditions. These garnets are extremely valuable. There are forms of garnet that are valued more highly than all the others are. These are the star garnets. By far, a student discovered the biggest garnet ever found in 1996 in Central Australia. The specimen measured 100 feet across.

Garnet & Moonstone Pendant

Properties of garnet gemstones

The value of the individual gemstones is dependent on its physical properties. Garnets have inherently favorable qualities that make them ideal for use in jewelry making. Garnet stones are inherently durable, with a 7 to 7.5 hardness based in the Mohs scale, and therefore they do not wear out easily. Garnets also possess an attractive brilliance due to their high refractive index. Some of the other properties evaluated in order to determine the value of garnets are density and cleavage.

Garnet crystals are in the form of a dodecahedron, or a twelve-sided structure. The most common garnet stone is typically composed of andradite, almadite, and grossularite molecules. In some instances, the combination is composed of grossular, almandine, and pyrope. The mixture ratios vary. In order to determine the chemical composition of a garnet stone, a chemical analysis must be performed.

A variety of hues

Garnets come in a wide spectrum of colors and because of this, they can be used for many different jewelry designs and styles. Their popularity has not dimmed despite the constant shift in fashion trends. Some garnet stones appear two different shades when seen under artificial light and natural light. Pyrope and Almandine, which are red to violet in color, are two of the most popular dark red garnets. They are often used in the making of earrings, rings, necklaces, and bracelets. Garnets also come in shades of orange and yellow, as well as various shades of green. There are garnets in earth colors as well. Blue is the only color in the spectrum that exists very rarely world of garnets. Only a few blue garnets have been found. The color of a gemstone is determined by its chemical composition.

Africa is the source of garnets of varying hues. As previously mentioned, there are emerald green garnets that are quite rare, known to jewelers as the Demantoids. The Tsavorite garnets are also rare green gems. When these are made into bracelets, necklaces, and rings the items can be quite costly. There are also black garnets known as Melanite, yellow garnets known as Grossular, and orange to reddish-brown gemstones known as Spessartite. Another type of garnet is the Andranite group, which ranges in color from yellow-green to black or brown. There are colorless gemstones under the Adranite group as well.

Garnet Pendant

Associated Symbolisms

It is widely believed that placing at least three garnet gemstones on the desk of an entrepreneur would change the fates of the venture. Garnets are typically associated with success in business.

Garnets are also associated with improved self-esteem and when placed over the head, it can assist the person in achieving a meditative state. In a sense, the gemstone is believed to boost self-awareness and spirituality. The garnet is a gemstone that is also associated with sex drive. In addition, it is deemed an agent of safety during travel. Garnets are also associated with compassion and love.

Healing properties

In some circles, garnet stones are even suggested as a cure for depression. This can be achieved by placing the garnet under the sufferer’s pillow. With regard to its healing properties, traditional belief also holds that red garnet can purify the spleen and the thyroid when the stone is placed on the skin above the area where these glands are located.

Garnet Bracelet

Trade value of garnet

Well-formed gemstone specimens can fetch significantly high in the market, especially if the mineral specimen are well crystallized and attractive in color. These are popular amongst mineral collectors, particularly those that fit the requirements for transparency and size. Compared to other mineral rocks, garnets have a huge advantage in terms of appearance. Some of the most well formed mineral species of garnets are found in skarn deposits, which are sources of tungsten, copper, and gold. Prospectors must take care to ensure that their finds are handled properly since chipped, broken, or cracked crystals will not have much value as a mineral specimen. The value lessens if there is intrusion of other mineral crystals.

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    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      Of course I had to read about my birthstone. I learned new things this morning about the lovely garnet.

      Angels are on the way this morning ps

    • Joyfulcrown profile image
      Author

      Joyfulcrown 3 years ago

      Hi Missirupp, Peridot is a lovely stone. Maybe I will get inspired and write a hub before August.

    • profile image

      missirupp 3 years ago

      Guess I'll have to wait for your hub on August's gem. Peridot?

    • Joyfulcrown profile image
      Author

      Joyfulcrown 3 years ago

      Happy Birthday! Your are lucky to have such a beautiful birthstone. Yes I was a jeweler many years ago.

    • LadyFiddler profile image

      Joanna Chandler 3 years ago from On planet Earth

      I am a Januarian/ Capricorn to my heart and right now i am wearing a garnet stone ring :) "Smile"

      Thanks for sharing your info about the Garnet Stone you sound like a Jeweller lol.

    • Joyfulcrown profile image
      Author

      Joyfulcrown 3 years ago

      Thank you Adventuretravels. I am glad you enjoyed the article. Garnets are very beautiful and affordable too.

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from Perth UK

      This is a beautiful stone. A very interesting hub. Thanks.

    • Joyfulcrown profile image
      Author

      Joyfulcrown 3 years ago

      Nice to meet you too D.A.L. I am glad you enjoyed the hub. Thanks for stopping by.

    • D.A.L. profile image

      Dave 3 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Hi Nice to meet you {after commenting on one of my hubs},so glad I did. This is an excellent,informative read which greatly added to my knowledge thank you .

    • Joyfulcrown profile image
      Author

      Joyfulcrown 3 years ago

      Thank you Thomas. I appreciate you reading the hub & am glad you found it interesting.

    • Thomas Swan profile image

      Thomas Swan 3 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks for this information. I had no idea it was a birthstone for January. The composition info was very interesting too. Cheers.

    • Joyfulcrown profile image
      Author

      Joyfulcrown 3 years ago

      Yes garnets are especially pretty. I like them set in white gold or silver the contrast with the stones are beautiful. Happy New Year.

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 3 years ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      I love birthstones. Garnets are especially pretty. My oldest daughter and youngest granddaughter were both born in January and garnet is their birthstone. Thanks for all the information.

      Happy New Year.

    • Joyfulcrown profile image
      Author

      Joyfulcrown 3 years ago

      Oh you have a birthday coming. I'm glad you enjoyed the article. Happy New Year!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      January is my birth month and garnet my stone and I did not know it came in different hues. Thank you for sharing this..I learned so much.

      Many Angels are on the way to you this evening. ps

    • Joyfulcrown profile image
      Author

      Joyfulcrown 3 years ago

      Happy early Birthday! Thank you for stopping by and reading the article.

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 3 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      This is my birthstone and so this article drew my attention. Good, informative hub!

    • Joyfulcrown profile image
      Author

      Joyfulcrown 3 years ago

      Thank you tobusiness. I love gemstones.

    • Joyfulcrown profile image
      Author

      Joyfulcrown 3 years ago

      Alicia, You are blessed to have garnet has your birthstones. It is one of my favorites.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      I'm learning a lot about gemstones during this holiday period. Great hub, very informative and well done.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for this informative hub. I was born in January, so I've been interested in garnet for a long time. I've learned a lot about it by reading your article!

    • Joyfulcrown profile image
      Author

      Joyfulcrown 3 years ago

      Thank you for reading my hub. I use to own a jewelry store and have always love gemstones. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    • m abdullah javed profile image

      muhammad abdullah javed 3 years ago

      Very informative hub about gems and stones. You have explained their healing power too....I do believe this but could not find any scientific reasons behind, in what way does the stones react with our skin and body temperature, in what way the color effects our mood and behavior....all this need to understand, hope you would provide us with such startling revelations, sometime. Thanks for sharing.

      wishing you and your family a happy Christmad and a prosperous new year.

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