January's Birthstone Jewel

Happy birthday, January born babes! Whether you are a Capricorn with your lovely, philanthropic heart, or Aquarius, with your wonderfully non-conforming ways, you are AWESOME and we LOVE YOU!


While most months have a traditional and modern birthstone, in the case of January, the modern and traditional birthstones are the same: Garnet! This beautifully classic, untreated stone is what we are going to learn about today. Let’s check it out!


Garnet has been used in jewelry and as a gemstone for over 5,000 years! It has been found in Egyptian burials and was a very popular, if not the most popular, gemstone during the Roman Empire. When you think of garnet, you probably visualize a deep red jewel. This is the red almandine and pyrope variations of garnet. However, garnet comes in many different colors, with red being the most common and blue being the least common. Say what?! You never knew that? Well, now you do. Reading has never been more FUNdamental! Let’s dive into some of these color and mineral variations, shall we?


As we have already discussed, red is the most known color of garnet. Pyrope is the most popular of the red varieties, with a rich pomegrante color (yummy). The word pyrope derives from the Greek word for, “fire-eyed” in reference to the high refractive index of this type of garnet. Pyrope garnets gained popularity after large deposits were discovered in Bohemia (later to be known as Czechoslovakia) in the 16th century. Bohemian garnet jewelry would become fashionable and reach its peak towards the end of the Victorian Era. Almandine is another type of red garnet that can range from purplish red to dark red. though it is not as widely used due to its opaqueness. Gem quality transparency is considered rare. A hybrid of both pyrope and almandine is called rhodolite, a garnet ranging in color from pink to purplish red. They are used as a more affordable alternative to purple and pink sapphires. It is mined in Tanzania, Mozambique, Brazil, Sri Lank, and the US.


Spessartite garnet is an orange to orange-red form of this gorgeous gem. Its color can change from a reddish-orange to a brownish orange, with a fiery-red and slight orange tints being the most desirable. In the 1960s, a large deposit of this gemstone was discovered in the Umba River Valley of Tanzania and Kenya, making it more readily available and mainstream.


Melanite garnet is an opaque black garnet that was often used in jewelry during the Victorian Era, and is unusual to find today. Its glossy luster gives it a secondary name of “titanium andradite” due to its high titanium content. Melanite is comparable in color to black tourmaline, black sapphire, and black diamond.


There are also three types of green garnet: demantoid, tsavorite, and uvarovite. Demantoid garnet has recently become more popular due to its bright dispersion of fire that actually exceeds a diamond’s dispersion (demantoid has a dispersion of .057 and diamonds are at .044). In fact, the name “demantoid” is taken from the German word “demant,” meaning “diamond” in reference to it’s brilliance. Tsavorite garnet is a rich, green color that is commonly mistaken for emeralds. Therefore, it is very popularly used as a more affordable alternative to emerald. Uvarovite is a form of andradite and is the rarest of the common members of the garnet group. All of these green variations of garnet are becoming increasingly known, but are still higher in price than the red variations due to its rarity.


Speaking of rare, the most rare form of garnet is the blue garnet (pyrope-spessartine). It is also referred to as color-change garnet. This type was only recently discovered in the 1990s. How cool is that?! It changes from blue-green to purple depending on the color temperature of viewing light. Due to this awesome color changing ability, it is often compared to alexandrite.


I hope you all enjoyed reading and learning and growing from all this garnet knowledge! Even though there is only one birthstone for January born babes, there are many different varieties of it, and that’s GREAT because we all like having options!


Give Barb a call if you are looking for a birthday gift. She’ll be ready to help you find the perfect one!

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