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January’s birthstone: Garnet

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

It’s New Year and if, like me, you’ve made resolutions to do with fitness, finances and fulfilment, you’ll be glad of January’s birthstone, garnet – the gemstone that’s said to promote health, wealth and happiness.

January birthstone garnet |

It may surprise you to learn that the name garnet doesn’t describe a single type of gem, but is an umbrella term for a group of closely-related varieties of mineral. Gemmologists identify six common species of garnet by their chemical composition (pyrope, almandine, spessartite, grossularite, uvarovite and andradite), but within these species are many varieties distinguished by colour or other properties.

Born in one of the darkest months of the year? Well, January’s birthstone will add a flash of colour to those grey winter days! Garnet occurs in a dazzling variety of colours, though most commonly in shades of red, with deep red pyrope and brownish-red almandine the garnets you are most likely to see in the shops. In fact, garnet’s name comes from the medieval Latin word ‘granatus’, meaning ‘seed’, probably because the crystals of red-coloured garnets looks just like the seeds of pomegranate fruit.

Though you probably think of garnet as one of the more affordable gemstones, some varieties are far more expensive, such as the rare blue-to-pink colour change variety unearthed in Madagascar in recent years. One of the most expensive and coveted, however, is demantoid garnet – a stunning green variety that competes with emerald for colour and diamond for fire. Demantoid garnets from Russia that contain horsetail inclusions are even more special.

Over the centuries, garnet has been mined in many countries. Today, most of the the world’s supply comes from the east of Africa, including Tsavorite – another well-known green variety of garnet. The name Tsavorite comes from the location of its discovery, the Tsavor National Park, and was coined by Tiffany and Co, who also named another Tanzanian gemstone, the violet-coloured Tanzanite.

January’s birthstone Garnet. As well as being the birthstone for January, garnet is the gem for a 2nd wedding anniversary. It is thought to bring luck and keep its wearer safe. People throughout history and from all over the world have worn garnet as a talisman against harm in battle. What better gemstone to help you tackle the challenges of a new year and a new decade?

Photo credit: from Somewhere In The Rainbow collection – this beautiful 16ct Cabochon Mandarin Orange Garnet is set in custom platinum and rose gold ring – created by Master Artisan, Marc Hollmuller.

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