Garnet: The Gem of Faith and January Birthstone

gold Anglican cross, garnetJanuary’s birthstone is the garnet! A symbol of health, prosperity, and peace and believed to bring good health, garnets are the perfect way to start a new year or celebrate a birthday!

At Gallery Byzantium, we offer many pieces set with this semiprecious gemstone.  Celebrating a January birthday or anniversary and see another piece you like that is not set with a garnet? Not a problem! Give us a call at 800-798-6173 or e-mail us at info@gallerybyzantium. We’d be happy to customize one of our pieces for you!

A diverse gemstone

Bird-Shaped Brooch. 500–600. Made in northern France or western Germany. Gold, garnet, glass, pearl. Via

Garnets are a relatively hardy gemstone, rating a 6.5-7.5 on the Mohs scale, making it a good, durable fit for jewelry.  The word “garnet” derives from a variety of sources, the most common being the Middle English word “gernet,” or “dark red.”  It is also said that the word comes from the Latin “granatum” meaning “seed,” an allusion to the stone’s resemblance to pomegranate seeds.

Both sources cite the color of garnet as the inspiration for its name, however garnet (like topaz) is available in a variety of colors; deep red just happens to be the most common.  Some garnets will even change color depending on the light, appearing blue in daylight and purple/red under incandescent lighting.

Of its rainbow-esque variety, blue garnets are among the rarest.  However, the finest red and green garnets have been often confused (and are oftentimes more brilliant than) rubies and emeralds.  Garnet has a glassy, adamantine luster that rivals those of diamonds, making this semiprecious stone highly coveted.  Garnets are also special in that they are not artificially enhanced to improve color or luster.

Also, like topaz, garnet is a gem that consists of numerous varieties.  Of the twenty-plus varieties of garnet, pyrope, almandite, spessartite, grossularite, andradite, and uvarovite are the types mainly used in jewelry.

King Solomon’s treasure

Garnet ring stone. Signed by Apollonios. Roman. ca. 1st century B.C. Garnet. Via

“The garnet is so durable, remnants of garnet jewelry can be found as far back as the Bronze Age.”   Egyptians were particularly fond of the stone, calling it “the symbol of life” and using it liberally in their jewelry and carvings.  Garnet jewelry was buried with the pharaohs; a testament to the stone’s value and importance in the afterlife as well as in the living world.

Romans favored garnet for signet rings, using the stone to “…stamp the wax that secured important documents.” In ancient Rome, garnets were perhaps the most widely-traded gem.

Unlike other gemstones, garnet did not fall out of fashion and lose popularity over the years.  It was the favored gemstone of the clergy and nobility in the Middle Ages.  Later, the Victorians were particularly fond of the stone.  “Some of the loveliest garnet jewelry from that era mimics its pomegranate namesake, with clusters of tiny red gems forming a larger statement piece.”  These seed-like clusters were also known as “carbuncles” in ancient times and thought to be one of the precious stones God gave to King Solomon.

The “gem of faith”

Gold armband with Herakles knot. Hellenistic. 3rd–2nd century B.C.. Greece. Gold inlaid with garnets, emeralds, and enamel. Via

“The folklore on garnet is extensive.”  According to legend, the stone brings peace, prosperity, and good health, protecting the wearer from illness and harm (in fact, garnets were worn by warriors heading into battle!).   “The garnet also symbolized deep and lasting friendship. With that legend in mind, give a garnet to someone whose friendship you deeply value.”

Garnet earned the moniker of “the gem of faith” as it is believed that if you wear the stone and do good, good fortune will come to you.  It is also known as the “travelers’ stone,” thought to protect the wearer on a journey or long voyage.  It is said that Noah used a garnet lantern to aid in navigating the Ark during the night.

The Meaning and History of Garnet –
January Birthstone –
Garnet History and Lore –
Garnet Gemstone Information –
Tags: , , , , , ,

Categorized in: