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Kathy Wheat

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Published on: 19 Dec 2016 by kathywheat

January Birthstone: Garnet

January's Birthstone, the garnet, is a great way to brighten up such a cold, dreary month. Known for its brilliant red shades that range from orange-y to purple-y, the word “garnet” comes from the Latin “granatum,” which means “seedlike,” in reference to the garnet's color and appearance resembling the seeds of a pomegranate. However, the word “garnet” actually refers to a whole group of silicate minerals, which share similar crystal structures and chemical compositions. Depending upon their exact composition, these stones can be red, pink, colorless, green, black, blue, or even change colors in different lights (these last two garnet colorings are exceedingly rare and therefore more valuable). Garnets are usually found as pebbles in small streams, where the igneous or metamorphic rock that used to contain them has eroded away. They are relatively hard and durable gemstones, measuring between 6.5 and 7.5 on the Mohs scale.

Humans began using garnets as far back as the Bronze Age; there is evidence of their use in jewelry and talismans in ancient Egypt, Sumeria, Greece, Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic), Scandinavia, and North America. Many different beliefs have been associated with garnets over time; for example, during the Crusades, they were believed to protect against wounds and accidents, but in Asia warriors believed that using garnets as arrow tips or bullets would cause more severe wounds in their enemies. It has been said that Noah used a glowing garnet to light up the inside of the ark, and the Qu'ran states that fourth heaven of Islam is illuminated by a garnet. The gemstone has been said to protect against nightmares, relieve depression, and relieve hemmorhages and liver diseases. Garnets are thought to bring peace and prosperity, and it's said that whoever wears one and does good things will have more good things come their way, but whoever wears one and does bad things will have more bad things come their way. Even today, garnets are associated with loyalty and friendship.

Garnets can be found all over the world, including in Wyoming, the Czech Republic, Greece, Russia, Spain, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, India, and Australia. They are commonly used in all types of jewelry and are especially popular in drop earrings and tiaras. Red and green garnets resemble rubies and emeralds but are generally less expensive. Jewelry with small clusters of garnets (resembling their namesake pomegranate seeds) were very popular during the Victorian era, and many of those pieces survive today.

If you're interested in garnet jewelry, whether new or vintage, come into your Austin Jewelry Store, Copeland Jewelers, today! (Please note that our selection of vintage pieces changes frequently.) And if you don't see exactly what you like, ask us about our custom jewelry design process!

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