Your garnet birthstone has an image problem

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Your garnet birthstone has an image problem

Versatile garnets are January’s birthstone but what comes to mind?

When I think of garnets, I either envision Victorian mourning jewelry or dominatrix-wear with drops of stony blood. Not the look you are seeking? No. Me neither.

But, the chilly month of January claims the garnet, the most common gemstone used since the beginning of civilization. The name comes from Latin for “grainy seed” after the glowing red arils of pomegranates as the best known color is a rich, deep, sanguine red.

Admittedly, a sexy color. But there is no reason to limit our imaginations just because the weather has taken a chill.

Red is not the garnet’s only choice for color

Because, depending on the minerals included in the silicate crystal structure, garnet colors can range throughout the rainbow. Black cherry through merlot, blood, citrus, goldenrod, spring to leafy green, root beer to cinnamon, black and color changing blue. Infinite choices!

Happily, the garnet is a thrifty stone.

Indeed, garnets are a reasonably hard and sturdy gem for use in any jewelry. The different types allow different colors, and price points. There is surely something for everyone, from nature girl to temptress, innocent to salsa queen!

If January isn’t your birthday month, don’t fret. The garnet also serves as the celebration gem for the Second Anniversary. And nothing says you can’t get one to match your hair or eyes, or dress … or mood, anytime.

And, garnets are one of the few stones that aren’t enhanced or heat-treated. Generally, they are eye-clean without manipulation. The colors are bright and varied, naturally.

Garnet Cheatsheet

When looking for garnets you’ll see several terms used, so you should be prepared. To help you out I’ve prepared a cheat sheet, below:

  • Pyrope – Magnesium and Aluminum traces, colored deep red to black, from Colorado and Wyoming mines. The Bohemian garnet is from the Czech Republic.
    • Rhodolite — variety from North Carolina, named for Rhododendrons because of its violet-red color:
    • Color-changing blue — Pyrope/Spessartine mix, Vanadium traces, discovered in Madagascar in 1990.
    • Malaia — Pytope/Spessartine/Grossular in a variable mix. From the Umba Valley, Africa. Distinctive pink, orange, peachy colors. Has differing properties from other garnets, so named from the Swahili for “outcast”: 
  • Almandine – the most common and hardest variety, some are used for industrial purposes, has Iron and Aluminum in the crystal. Deep blood red.
  • Spessartine – Manganese and Aluminum component, orange-yellow found in Madagascar:
  • Andradite – Calcium and Iron included, can be khaki or brown.
    • Topazolite – variety in yellow or green.
    • Demantoid – from the Urals, green, is the most prized: 
    • Melanite – in black.
  • Grossular – green stone named for the gooseberry after its color, found in Siberia, has Calcium and Aluminum in the crystal.
    • Hessonite – comes in cinnamon, red and yellow, not quite as hard as other garnets.
    • Tsavorite – from Kenya and Tanzania and is a deep green similar to emerald:
  • Uvarovite – Calcium and Chromium traces, bright green, rare and usually in druzy form

Now, wearing birthstone jewelry doesn’t mean you settle for cookie cutter pieces, of course. That won’t do! So, pick something unique or custom made, just as you would any important addition to your collection.

Are birthstones still relevant to you?

I’ll bet you already knew if garnet is or isn’t your birthstone. Am I right? Maybe your grandmother gave you one when you were small? A sweet remembrance, like a nostalgic filter on Instagram pic, that slips into your mind whenever you rummage through your jewelry box.

Or, have you bought your birthstone for yourself that you wear everyday? Perhaps, its an under-the-radar way to wear something personal. Yet, it's not that annoying three letter word your monogram spells. Before I was married, mine was J A B and caused more than one skirmish!

Maybe birthstones don’t seem relevant to you at all? Old-fashioned? Too commercial? Too common? Chances are you still know which is yours.

So, do you still love your birthstone? Leave a comment and let me know how you stand on birthstones. Yea or nay.