Happy new year! 2018 is here and January brings with it another beautiful multi-colored birthstone…the garnet! While garnet is mostly known for its red and brownish varieties, it comes in many colors and brings with it some intriguing folklore.
With that in mind, here are 10 fun facts you may not know about January’s birthstone, the garnet:
- Garnets are found all over the world, from gem quality specimens used in jewelry to tiny specimens gathered and used to make sandpaper.
- The name “garnet” has its roots (no pun intended) with the fruit of the pomegranate! The origin of the word comes from the Latin word “granatum” (seed) and the Middle English word “gernet” (dark red) from the 14th century.
- Although the name garnet references dark red as mentioned above, garnets come in more different colors than any mineral, ranging from the deep and bright green of the rare uvarovite variety to the reds and violet reds of the almandine and pyrope varieties and the striking green of tsavorite garnets.
- While some garnets are violet-red and green, that’s the closest they get to blue. There are no blue garnets.
- Carved garnets were used in signet rings in Ancient Rome for use in stamping wax seals on important documents.
- The “star garnet” is the state gemstone of Idaho. Star garnets are known for demonstrating an optical phenomenon known as asterism, which causes a star-shaped pattern of reflection. 4-pointed star garnets are more numerous, but 6-pointed star garnets are much more rare and more highly prized.
- The garnet has a dynamic range of folklore attached to it. On the one hand, it has been called the “Gem of Faith” with the belief that if you wear garnets and do good to others, more good will ultimately come to you. On the other hand, the opposite is also believed to be true in that if you do bad things while wearing garnets, more bad things will come your way.
- Cape Ruby, Arizona Ruby, California Ruby and Rocky Mountain Ruby are just some of the tradenames that pyrope garnet is known by. While it is beautiful and dark red, it is not an actual ruby…it is a garnet.
- Garnets are almost universal! They are found throughout the world in various sizes, shapes, colors and forms from Greece to Madagascar, Russia to Sri Lanka, Czech Republic to the US and Tanzania!
- Garnets range from 6.5 – 7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness and are very durable, as garnet jewelry and remnants of garnet jewelry have been found and dated back as far as the Bronze Age
For more information about this beautiful gem and other precious and semi-precious gems, contact us today!