Like many other months, January possesses a traditional birthstone option as well as alternative options to match your personal style and taste. Generally, the red garnet is considered most traditional, however, garnets are available in a diverse range of colors and shades. Garnet means “pomegranate” in Latin which refers to the traditional red color garnets are most known for. Garnets have been worn since the Bronze Age, both as adornments as well as abrasives made from lesser quality gems. Since then, Egyptian pharaohs wore garnet for prestige. Garnet rings were used to stamp wax, sealing important documents in ancient Rome. During the Middle Ages, nobles and clergy developed a preference for the gem also. The garnet boasts of a rich and storied history that continues even today.
It may be surprising to learn that garnet is actually a group of several different minerals. These minerals including pyrope, almandine, and others, and is what determines a garnet’s color. It is a relatively common gemstone that can be found across the globe. Bohemia was a primary source of garnet, as well as the Ural Mountains in Russia. Most modern garnet is mined in Africa, especially in Namibia, Tanzania, and Madagascar. Domestically, Southern California was also a primary source of garnet for decades, and the middle east is also a rich source. Garnet is formed in metamorphic rock through temperature and pressure. It is mined in one of several ways including open pit mining and shaft mining. Garnets can also be found exposed or in sand deposits which can be dug out easily. Once mined, they are sorted by quality, cut into gems, or ground for abrasives.
Garnet has long been associated with good health, wealth, and happiness. Indian astrology respects the garnet for its ability to overcome negativity, boost self-confidence, and promote peace and creativity. During the Middle Ages, it was also considered a remedy for ailments ranging from inflammatory disease to soothing an angry heart. In Egypt, many considered it a symbol of life. It was used to protect warriors going into battle, and to ward off plague.
Garnet is known as a relatively durable gemstone. In fact, some garnet jewelry made in ancient times remain as beautiful today as they were thousands of years ago. With a rating between 6.5 and 7.5 on the Moh’s hardness scale, they are slightly softer than other gems such as rubies and diamonds. It is important to note that harder gems can scratch garnet, just as garnet can scratch other softer gems. However, most garnets are not treated and do not require special care. Warm soapy water is excellent for cleaning, but they are also safe in an ultrasonic cleaner if there are no internal fractures in the stone. Cleaning with steam is not recommended.
If a garnet is not your cup of tea, a popular alternative for January births is red jasper. While garnet tends to be clear, red jasper is an orange-red, opaque mineral that is a variety of quartz. It can range in a variety of shades based on the level of impurities which give it color. Like garnet, they have been honored for centuries and are respected in both the physical and spiritual realms. Jasper is not as durable as garnet, so special care must be considered to keep your gem in pristine condition. Warm, soapy water is the optimal way to clean red jasper. Also, it is advisable to remove your jewelry before engaging in any intense activity or athletics. Due to its porous nature, they can become saturated with dirt, oils, and sweat, and should be cleaned regularly to keep them looking their best.
Paffrath and Son Jewelers in Willmar, MN understands how meaningful birthstone jewelry can be. That is why we work hard to provide you with exceptional quality garnet jewelry you can be proud of. Choose from our in-stock selection, or chat with our master jeweler to customize the perfect, one-of-a-kind ring, pendant, earrings, bracelets, or other unique piece. We hope that all our friends and neighbors celebrating a birth this month have an exceptional one. We are your full-service jeweler in West Central Minnesota, and we look forward to sharing our generations of experience to give you a better kind of jewelry shopping experience. We invite you to stop in and consider Paffrath and Son for all your jewelry needs.