Monday, January 4, 2010

Garnets - The Birthstone for January

The birthstone for January - garnet, is a stone that is generally thought to be blood red, but can be found in a wide color choice.

To get an idea of the normal garnet color, break open a pomegranate and inspect the tiny glossy red seeds inside the fruit. After doing this, you may understand why the word garnet comes from the Latin word "granatus" which originated when garnet grains in rock were compared to the dark red seeds of the pomegranate fruit.

Photo Courtesy of ebay seller BangkokGemMart

To the ancient gemologists, the garnet was a tiny glossy red gem, which was just bursting with fire and brilliance. Garnets are formed in nature when high temperatures and/or pressure are present. It can be any density from transparent to opaque and has a specific gravity between 3.4 and 4.3. Garnets have been used as gemstones in jewelry for thousands of years.

Even though people tend to think of a garnet as a blood red gemstone mentioned above, it actually occurs in every color except blue. The varieties are named for their color with names such as rhodolite (purplish red), hessonite (orange, cinnamon, or pinkish variety) and tsavorite (dark green) etc.

Garnets are of moderate hardness, ranging from 6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness. However, garnets lack cleavage, so when they break, they fracture into sharp, irregular pieces. Their durability and hardness make them popular gemstones for jewelry.

These gemstones are mined all over the world but the largest deposits are found in the Arizona, Australia, Brazil, South Africa, Argentina, Burma, Scotland, Switzerland and Tanzania. Unfortunately, many garnets mined are not of sufficient quality to be used in fine jewelry.

The garnet is the gemstone for those born in January and is also that associated with the Zodiac sign Aquarius. It is often given as a gift for the second or 6th wedding anniversary.

For those interested in metaphysics, the garnet has a long folk lore history tied to it. It is thought to have powers that affect healing, strength, and protection. Many people wear it to relieve inflammations of the skin, and is believed to regulate the heart and blood flow and aid in curing depression.

Are you a January baby? How lucky you are to have this wonderful gemstone associated with your birth month.

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