January Birthstone Trivia: Five Fun Facts About Garnet

To celebrate those of you celebrating a birthday this month, here’s a few fun pieces of trivia about the January birthstone, garnet.

Garnets are green

Green Garnet Earrings

Well most garnets are red, but they can also be green, orange, yellow, blue, purple, brown, black, pink or colorless.  Certain varieties of garnet even have one range color in daylight, but these colors change when exposed to incandescent light.

Tsavorite is the best known green garnet, and is commonly used in jewelry.  One of the rarest of all garnets is uvarovite, which is a bright emerald-green color:  it gets its consistently green color from the presence of chromium; it gets its rather unusual name from Russian statesman and amateur mineral collector Count Sergei Semenovitch Uvarov.

Garnets are true grit

Because garnet is a natural abrasive, it is used in sandpaper and in particular sandpaper used in woodworking.  In 1878 garnet coated sandpaper was first produced by Henry Hudson Barton of Barton Mines (who still produce abrasive products to this day).

Sandpaper was originally known as glass paper, which is fitting as garnet is a silicate mineral, and silica is the fundamental constitute of glass.

Garnets are worn with pride in Connecticut

Garnet is the official state mineral of Connecticut (yes, some states have official minerals.)  More specifically, the almandine garnet “ which, unsurprisingly, Connecticut possesses in abundance “ was elevated to this lofty status by the state’s General Assembly in 1977.

Connecticut is not the only state with an association to January’s birthstone.  Beating Connecticut to the punch by a decade, Idaho adopted the star garnet (a dark purple or plum-colored garnet) as the state gemstone in 1967.  Two years later New York designated the wine red garnet as its state gem. The grossular garnet (usually green) was made Vermont’s state gem in 1991.

By coincidence, January is also Connecticut’s birthday (it joined the Union on January 9, 1788), making garnet the perfect choice for the state mineral!

Garnets are very Bohemian

Bohemia, a historical region of central Europe now located in the contemporary Czech Republic, was an early source of quality garnets.  It is also one of the few places in the world where the pyrope garnet can be found.  Pryrope garnets are a deep, blood red in color and are also known as, you guessed it  Bohemian garnets.

The capital of the Czech Republic is Prague. There you can visit the Magic Garnet museum, which features a large collection of historical and contemporary garnet jewelry

Garnets are good for your health

January birthstone

Garnet has long been thought to have healing powers, credited with improving every sort of ill health from heart palpitations to heart disease.  On the metaphysical and mental front, garnets are said to combat melancholy and guard against evil spirits.

Garnets are also thought to offer protection against injury or death. Soldiers throughout the ages have carried garnets onto the battlefield to protect them from their enemies. In ancient Greece, sailors would wear amulets of garnet at sea as talismans, and an ancient legend  says that a garnet carbuncle was fixed on the mast of Noah’s Ark, and provided light on the voyage night and day.

Other characteristics associated with the January birthstone are love, devotion, honour and loyalty. It is even said that garnets given as gifts grant loyalty and affection upon the bestowed.  Whether or not this is true, a gift of fine garnet jewelry will always be appreciated  especially for those celebrating a January birthday.

2 thoughts on “January Birthstone Trivia: Five Fun Facts About Garnet

  1. Laurie Cothran January 6, 2011 / 11:56 am

    Thought you might enjoy reading this. Love you, Me.


  2. Jessica April 16, 2012 / 12:55 pm

    I love garnets. They are my obsession


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