January’s birthstone, garnet, is associated with karma and good health. In ancient times, garnet was believed to heal soldiers’ wounds. Discover fascinating folklore and facts about this striking gem below.
Ancient Symbol Of Life
Ancient Egyptians believed Garnets symbolized life. They used them to honor their Goddess of War and Protectress of Healing, Sekhmet. Egyptian jewelry adorned with these gems dates back as far as 3100 BC.
Connection With Pomegranates And Distant Love
In ancient Greece, garnets were associated with pomegranates and Persephone, Goddess of Grain and Vegetation.
According to Greek mythology, Persephone was captured by Hades, God of The Underworld, and forced to live with him in hell. She eventually grew to love—and even wed—Hades. Over time, an agreement was made which allowed Persephone to spend eight months of the year on Earth. (Learn more about the Myth of Persephone and how it relates to the seasons.) To ensure Persephone’s return to the underworld, Hades put pomegranate seeds in her mouth. He thought she would not be able to resist returning for their delightful taste.
As a result of this story, much of the garnet jewelry from ancient Greece resembles pomegranate seeds. This may also be why the stone is associated with lovers and friends who are separated by distance.
Given To King Solomon By God?
The term carbuncle was used to refer to any red stone including garnet in ancient times. Carbuncle was one of the stones believed to be given to King Solomon by God. Some people believe that red stone was garnet.
Seal Of Protection
Garnets were used in ancient Rome to seal important documents. Signet rings were made with garnets and used to stamp the wax to ensure the document was not read.
- Known as the “Karma Stone,” wearing this gem while doing kind deeds is believed to bring good fortune to the wearer. Some people believe that the same is true with the reverse. For instance, wearing a garnet stone while doing bad acts brings bad luck.
- Also known as the “Stone of Health,” it is thought to protect warriors in battle and ward-off disease. In ancient times, it was even be placed in wounds to aid in healing.
- Ancient Hindu astrologers believed the gem relinquished guilty feelings and negative emotions of all kinds, bringing happiness, health, and wealth to those who wore it.
- Garnet is thought to bring confidence, clarity (along with creativity), and peace to the wearer.
January Birthstone – Garnet Necklace
Garnet is the traditional birthstone for January. It is believed to inspire courage, especially during times of trauma.
Known as the “Karma stone” it is thought to bring good luck to those who do kind deeds.
This necklace makes for a wonderful gift for someone who could use some extra strength right now.
– Limited quantity –
The Pyrope Hair Comb
One of the most famous pieces of garnet jewelry is housed at the Smithsonian. The pyrope garnet hair comb has a large, rose-cut garnet surrounded by smaller garnets—all from Bohemia (Czech Republic). It was made during the Victorian era (1837-1901).
The Kunz Garnet
The American Museum of Natural History houses one of the largest garnets found. This gem is about the size of a bowling ball and weighs almost 10 pounds. It was discovered in 1885 by people working on the sewers in New York City. It was named the Kunz garnet after George F Kunz who was a mineralogist.
A Rare Demantoid Garnet
A demantoid garnet discovered in the 1990’s is now at home in the Smithsonian Museum. This rare green stone is 11.24 carats and thought to be worth about thirty-seven thousand dollars.
How They Are Formed
Unlike other gems, garnets may be made with several different minerals. There are over 20 species, but only five are commonly sold: pyrope, almandine, spessartine, grossular and andradite. Most are a mix of two or more species.
Garnets are found all around the world and come in many colors. The most varieties are red and violet-red, however, they also comes in green, yellow, and orange. Rarer ones are blue and clear. The rarest change color—from blue to purple—in different lighting.
Garnet ranks 6.5-7.5 on the h a Mohs scale, considered very durable. Fun fact: Garnet is not only used in beautiful jewelry. Lower quality stones are ground down and used as abrasives. Some even cut through materials as hard as steel!
Alternative January Birthstones
Garnet is not the only way to honor this month. We can look to the zodiac chart and the sign Capricorn for the option of obsidian.
Obsidian is natural occurring glass that was used to make jewelry, knives, and much more. It comes in many forms such as snowflake obsidian, mahogany obsidian, and rainbow obsidian to name a few.
In general, obsidian is associated with protection and clarity.
Traditionally regarded as May’s birthstone, emerald is considered to be January’s birthstone in Tibet. Emerald is a stone long associated with prosperity, wisdom, and intuition. Learn more about emerald.
No matter what stone you choose to honor the month of January, each of these have alluring qualities.
Join The Discussion!
Do you own a garnet stone?
What is one interesting fact or bit of folklore you learned from this article?
Let us know in the comments below!
Tamra Albright-Johnson specializes in the unique histories and folklore around rare stones. She owns and operates a custom jewelry shop with her daughter, Kennie, in Iowa.