The birthstone for the month of January is Garnet. A vibrant and meaningful gemstone, the Garnet received its name from a sacred fruit, the pomegranate. A staple in stories from ancient mythology, the pomegranate can be linked to elements of the seasons, fertility and even rebirth, which is appropriate for the month of January. Garnet, coming from the Latin word Garanatus, means seeds or seed-representing. Some garnets do resemble the seeds of a pomegranate, which is why this is the chosen name for this stone. Garnet is the birthstone for January and the gem for the second anniversary.
Although garnet is commonly associated with the color red, these gemstones can be found in almost any color and are popular choices for jewelry of all types. That’s excellent news if you’re in the market for the January birthstone. The garnet family is one of the most complex in the gem world. It’s not a single species but rather consists of several species and varieties.
What colour is a garnet?
While many of us believe the Garnet to be purely a red hue, the Granet can actually come in a wide variety of colors. This has to do with the physical stone itself. While all these stones are technically Garnet, they break down into categories: almandine, pyrope, spessartite, tsavorite, demantoid, rhodolite (one of our personal favourites, which we also use in our INGWE collection!) and leuco. As the colored stones (outside of red) are harder to come by, collectors put a hefty price tag on colors like orange and green Garnet stones. To appreciate the rainbow of garnets available, you have to see them.
Then - what's the difference between a Garnet and a Ruby?
Aside from the fact that Garnet comes in a variety of different colors, there are several differences that occur between Ruby and Garnet. Even when both are categorized under the same red hue, here are a few key differences to help distinguish the two:
- Garnet is a softer stone when compared to a Ruby (which falls just below a Diamond on the Mohs Scale of Hardness rating a 9, whereas a Garnet is between 7.5 and 8.5).
- The two stones reflect light differently. A Garnet will expel more colored hues to the light than a Ruby would.
- Some red Garnet pieces can expel subtle shades of orange hues throughout the stone.
Garnets do come in a pure red hue, but they are rare in sizes over a half-carat. It is much more common to see garnets with a significant brown component to the red or a very dark tone that is perceived as black reflections especially where the garnet absorbs light.