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Garnet: January Birthstone

by Kate McCoy |

 

Garnet is the birthstone for January.

Garnet is the name for a group of stones. Like a family name, with many members, garnets come in a range of colours each with their own name which is determined by their chemical composition.

Almandine- Fe3Al2(SiO4)3
Andradite- Ca3Fe2(SiO4)3
Grossular- Ca3Al2(SiO4)3
Pyrope- Mg3Al2(SiO4)3
Rhodolite- (Mg, Fe)3Al2(SiO4)3
Spessartine- Mn3Al2(SiO4)3

What makes these Gemstones part of the same family is that they all possess similar physical properties and crystal forms.

 

REFRACTIVE INDEX: 1.714-1.888
BIREFRINGENCE: None
SPECIFIC GRAVITY: 3.47-4.15
MOHS HARNESS: 6.5-7.5

All garnets fall under an isometric crystal system, which explains how their atoms and molecules lock together. For example the below picture is the naturally formed crystal structure of an almandine garnet. Almandine Garnet has a habit to form in a dodecahedron which is part of the isometric crystal system.

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Jewellery
Garnet is a popular choice in jewellery for its bright colours and hardness and durability.  
Colour
Most people associate Garnets with a shade of red. However these natural treasures can also be found in burgundy purple, warm brown, black, mint green, vivid bright green, deep yellow, honeyed or bright orange. 
image courtesy of http://www.multicolour.com/garnet/nomenclature-of-the-garnet.html
History
The distinctive title Garnet is derived from the Latin name Granatum, a pomegranate, because of the resemblance the red varieties of Garnet bear to the seeds of that fruit.
Garnets have been included in significant jewellery for thousands of years, dating back to 3000BC where graves were found buried with garnet necklaces. The King of Saxony was said to have a garnet of over 465 carats.
Energy healers say that Garnet can sharpen perception of self, helping to break behaviour patterns that no longer serve you, removing inhibitions and helping you to “open up”. It is also said that garnet balances sexual energies. 
Devotion and understanding, trust and friendship are the emotions identified with the stone. Making it a great gift for someone born in January. Due to is crystalline structure being a perfect cubic symmetry, resistance, building and harmony are other attributes associated with the stone.
Geography
Garnets are found over the world; in India, Himalayas, Zambia, Tanzania, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, America, California, Brazil, Ural Mountains, Burma, Bavaria, Italy, Canada, Poland.
Fun Facts
Used as a talisman dating as far back as 2100BC in Sumeria. It was believed to protect and strengthen warriors. Women wore garnets to increase their seductive powers.
Have a look at the different colours and if you would like more info, get in touch. kate@katemccoy.com

Almandine garnet is the most commonly known and seen garnet and is a deep red to brownish red colour. It is also found in violet red to darker red.

Almandine garnet is the most commonly known
 
and seen garnet and is a deep red to brownish red
colour. It is also found in violet red to darker red.

    Rhodolite Garnet is one of my favourite garnets for its raspberry violet hues

    Rhodolite Garnet is one of my favourite garnets
    for its raspberry violet hues.

    Spessartite is a rich honey like yellow-orange, brown-orange to red-orange colour

    Spessartite is a rich honey like yellow-orange,
    brown-orange to red-orange colour

    Topazolite Garnet is a yellow to brownish yellow stone

    Topazolite Garnet is a yellow to brownish yellow
    stone

    Pyrope Garnet is very similar to Almandine Garnet only that it is a deeper blood red colour

    Pyrope Garnet is very similar to Almandine Garnet only
    that it is a deeper blood red colour

    Tsavoriste garnet is a uniquely bright, vibrant green colour.

    Tsavoriste garnet is a uniquely bright, vibrant green colour.

    Melanite Garnet is a black opaque stone

    Melanite Garnet is a black opaque stone

    Hessonite Garnet is typically orange

    Hessonite Garnet is typically orange

    Demantoid Garnet is generally a vibrant green colour that is a little darker grass green than tsavorite.

    Demantoid Garnet is generally a vibrant green
    colour that is a little darker grass green than tsavorite. 

    Gem quality garnets are used in jewellery whilst lower grade garnets are for industrial purposes as an abrasive.