JANUARY'S BIRTHSTONE, GARNETS!
Garnets are January's Birthstone!
Happy New Year! We've come around to the 1st of the year again and it's time to focus on the beautiful Garnet!
Garnets come in many colors, from Reddish Purple to Orange, Green and even Blue, but the color that everyone first associates when they think of a Garnet is a beautiful, rich red. This is the most common color and the color everyone knows. The word Garnet even originates from the Latin word for Pomegranate, a rich and vibrant red fruit!
Types of Garnets:
There are 15 different types of Garnets but only 7 are the most well-known:
- Pyrope (purple to orange-red, and rarely, blue)
- Almandine (red and pink)
- Spessartine (red, orange, and yellow)
- Grossular (colorless to yellow, pink, cream, reddish orange, orange-red, and a vibrant green, called Tsavorite)
- Hessonite (reddish-brown)
- Andradite (brown-red, brown-yellow, grey-green, all the way to black, and yellow to yellowish green -which can sometimes be called Topaziolite because of it's resemblance to a Topaz, but its really a garnet)
- Urarovite (bright green)
Pyropes are, at least to me, probably the most fascinating as they can sometimes resemble a color-changing Alexandrite, changing from a beautiful green to blue depending on the light you are using to view the stone with. Other garnets will change colors too, which is still a rare occurrence, but still more common than the blue/green in that they can change from reddish orange to purple, with varying shades of cream and grey in the mix. Stunning!!!
Garnets are on average, a 7 on the Moh’s Scale of Hardness which makes them a rather durable option for use in all jewelry types including rings. Some Garnets are a little softer than this, however they do not “Cleave” which means shatter under force along a flat plain. When struck to the point of breaking, Garnets will break with a jagged and sharp edge, even just chipping slightly with the rest of the gemstone staying intact and wearable. It is recommended by Firefly to remove your rings/jewelry for activities that could involve your rings being damaged in some way – even doing the dishes or gardening can harm some gemstones and precious metals – however Garnets being a little more stable, you will not always need to remove them for every application such as just washing your hands like you should with gemstone jewelry such as with Opals.
Images above: Wikipedia
Other Rare Phenomenal Characteristics:
Some Garnets display something called Asterism. This is where the molecules of the gemstones have come together in such a way that the “grain” is linear, however these lines have a center point and shoot out in rays resembling a star that flashes and shimmers in the light. This phenomenon is better known in other gemstones such as Sapphires and Rubies, but Garnets will on occasion show this as well. Other Garnets will have inclusions of other minerals in them, such as Rutile, a beautiful reddish gold mineral that tends to grow in strands and embeds in other stronger minerals such as Quartz. Rutile adds a special sparkle and twinkle to the richness of the Garnets coloring.
Where do we find them?
Garnets are found far and wide, all over the world. From Sri Lanka to the Ural Mountains, to Tanzania, to Germany, and from Australia to Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic), and the USA.
Here in the United States you can find Garnets in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming! Whew!!! But each state that you find garnets in will have different varieties and colors based upon the mineral content of the soil.
Garnets are thought by some to be a stone of health and balance. Garnets light ones internal fire, enhancing creativity and manifestation by way of personal magnetism. They provide balance and stimulation of one’s Kundalini, stimulating both the Crown and the Base Chakras. Energy running through the spinal column is allowed to move freely, stimulating all part of the body in appropriate amounts for the individual’s needs. It is also a stone of commitment and love, historically used as a stone given to lovers and as sign of sweetness and promise. (They make a wonderful Valentine's Day gift!!!)
Being highly prized by the cultural groups from the Egyptians to the Anglo Saxons, these stones show up in beautiful artifacts throughout history. From jewelry for the Egyptians, to belt buckles, to garnet carvings used as signet rings for wax seals by the Romans, and decoration for swords, garnets have a rich history.
From the estate of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, this beautiful flower brooch with lush garnet cabochons sold for $145,000 at a Sotheby’s auction in 1996.
This is a stunning Pyrope Garnet Hair Comb in the collection at the Smithsonian Museum from the Czech Republic. Taken from their site: "This antique hair comb was donated in 1937 by Ales & Maria Herdlicka. It has Bohemian pyrope garnets from the Czech Republic, historically the principal source of these red garnets that were popular in Victorian jewelry (1837-1901). Garnets were often mounted in yellow gold, gold plate and mixed metal settings during this time. Bohemian garnet jewelry is known for its encrusted close-set stones which are often rose cut (faceted top and flat bottom, as seen here) and are sometimes combined with other larger faceted stones or cabochons. Pyrope gems are the reddest of all garnets, typically very dark red to slightly brownish-red and seldom are larger than a few carats. Pyrope has been confused with ruby, due to its fiery red color, and derives its name from the Greek pyropos, meaning “firelike.” Until the late 19th century, Bohemia was the main source of pyrope garnets. However, limited availability today precludes widespread use in modern jewelry."
In August 1885, this hunk of Garnet was discovered in New York City, on 35th Street, between Seventh Avenue and Broadway, eight feet below the street, during a sewer excavation years before Manhattan’s underground train tunnels would be dug! It was even used as a doorstop for a short time before finally being examined and elevated to something more than just a lunk of regular old rock. It is estimated to be 430 million years old! The Almandine Garnet is as rare as it is large. It weighs nine-pounds and is close to six inches in diameter. It is currently in storage at the American Museum of Natural History.
Seen here: "c. 8th century AD, Anglo-Saxon sword hilt fitting – gold with gemstone inlay of garnet cloisonné. From the Staffordshire Hoard, found in 2009, and not fully cleaned." -Source: Wikipedia
I hope you have enjoyed this whirlwind tour and learning more about January's Birthstones! They truly are a rich and intriguing stones, and a favorite of mine – especially the color changing varieties – so magical!!!
Happy New Year and Happy Birthday to all of the January Babies out there! I hope everyone's holiday season was full of warmth and kindness with your friends and families! This beautiful New Year is here and I’m so excited to welcome the good things that are upon us!!! More news and updates for Firefly to come!!!
Stay sparkly, my friends!