January Garnet-A Deeper History of Birthstones

January Garnet for passion, health & strength!

It is such a joy to write about gemstones because there is often quite a background story filled with interesting characters, plots, turns, and myths. I often feel like Nancy Drew finding trails, secrets, and clues. One version of a historical fact concerning jewellery or stones (most stories of royal jewels for example are packed with intrigue) can differ quite extraordinarily from another, depending on the source! Ah well. I guess it is similar to politics. History changes in the telling of it. This article is dedicated to the phenomena of the birthstone tradition and in particular January’s stone the strong & beautiful Garnet.

Hessonite Garnet Ring from Rocks & Co.

Hessonite Garnet Ring from Rocks & Co.

History Repeating

In the  first century Jewish historian Josephus believed that there was a connection between the twelve stones in Aaron’s breastplate (as described in the Book of Exodus) the twelve months of the year, and the twelve signs of the zodiac. As well in the  earlier civilisations of Babylon and India, gemstones have been known to attribute magical properties in connection to their significance in the Zodiac calendar.

It is believed that the gemstone for each month aligns with the season, our spiritual and mental energy, magical power, and the boosting of health.

Throughout the history of man, various early civilisations and cultures believed that wearing a gemstone of a specified month, provided healing powers to the wearer. In medieval times, using these birthday stone in the assigned months provided spiritual healing and would keep away evil spirits as well as bad dreams. The birthstone of January is the Garnet. Garnets were believed to keep away nightmares and guide the user through dark times.

The Latin word granatus, means grain or seed like.  The beauty and intensity of the pomegranate seed can remind us of the red garnet. According to Greek mythology, Hades, God of the underworld, gifted Persephone a pomegranate before she returned to the earth to visit her mother, Demeter. She had been a kidnapped Goddess, forced to be his queen, the gift of this fruit ensured that she would return to him safely. Gods! So, if we all owned garnets the divorce rate would go down!?

In the Ancient Roman period, garnets were used to symbolise areas in which the army had taken control. These stones were embedded in cells of gold using the ´cloisonne´ enamel inlay method. Many artifacts of what the Romans left behind have been found across Anglo-Saxon England to the Black Sea.

The darker, more opaque stones of the garnet family are used in ´garnet paper ‘as an abrasive, the favourite among cabinetmakers. When mixed with water and high pressure, they can also be used to cut steel. Garnets can be found in India, Russia, Africa, the rivers of Australia, and South America.

Lindi Garnet Loose Gem

Lindi Garnet Loose Gem

A Contemporary Take on an Old Tradition

In 1912 a modern list of month stones was created by the National Association of Jewellers, now called Jewellers of America, to be modified in 1952 and most recently in October of 2002. This list is the current standard for Westerners but the roots are ancient.

All species of garnets possess similar physical properties and crystal forms, but differ in chemical composition. The different species are pyrope, almandine, spessartine, grossular (varieties of which are hessonite or cinnamon-stone and tsavorite), uvarovite and andradite.

Garnet   comes in a variety of colors ranging from pink to black. Most common of this birthstone color is reddish brown.

Spessartite Pendant & Tsavorite Ring from Rocks & Co.

Spessartite Pendant & Tsavorite Ring from Rocks & Co.

More symbolically, as a gift it represents constancy, and it can be utilised to balance one´s yin and yang energy. If you are one that experiences restless sleep due to bad dreams, you might use a garnet under your pillow to ward off these bad dreams and the menacing spirits that might the cause of them. It is also believed to cure inflammatory disorders of the body, stops haemorrhaging, and brings a silence to anger and emotional discord.

Garnets have unique light transmission qualities, and some garnets seem to change colour in various light conditions

The January birthstone has been used to encourage a heightened sense of sensuality and sexuality, with Metaphysical properties, said to strengthen the regenerative powers of the body, ones’ commitment, giving insight and healing thoughts. Red Garnets, in particular, are associated with these powerful attributes. Red is the color of the first chakra, the root chakra and symbolizes, groundedness, home, and abundance. The chakra system originated in India between 1500 and 500 BC in the oldest text called the Vedas.  I have always loved garnets. Just because I am a Gemini born in June, I am not excluded from the benefits and beauty of this powerful gorgeous gemstone. Anyone can enjoy the power of the January Birthstone. Gorgeous and possibly magic. In these turbulent times, I would say to keep one really close!

Check out our January Garnet birthstone party 

Rocks & Co: