Garnet is the birthstone for January, but I think when that was originally decided, people did not know how amazing the range of Garnet colors were. Hundreds of years ago we looked at Garnets just as red in color. As a matter of fact, the name Garnet was derived from the pomegranate because the crystals are colored and shaped like pomegranate seeds. Today we know Garnets are actually a family of gemstones, which include Pyrope, Almandine, Grossular, Spessertine, Andradite and Uvarorite. All are used in jewelry except Uvarorite because the crystals are just too small to cut.
The Pyrope and Almandine Garnets are the more red and purplish colors and when there is mixed composition the resulting gems are called Rhodolites. Spessertite Garnets are yellow orange red and Grossular Garnets can be brownish red (called Hessonite Garnet) to gold, to the green shades called Tsavorite Garnets. Tsavorite Garnets, in all shades of green, are one of the rarest. It has also become one of the more valuable in the Garnet family.
Andradite Garnet is the last and is named after a Portuguese mineralogist, d’Andrada. It is found in browns, yellow, yellow green colors and when colored with chrome it is a rich green gem called Demantoid Garnet. Demantoid Garnets are also one of the most rare and expensive gemstones in the Garnet family.
So, the birthstone for January actually comes in many colors, which include the original pomegranate reds.
We now know a little of the Garnet family and history, but people don’t wear Garnet for the history or its chemical composition. They wear them because they are beautiful and bring a whole host of emotional feelings. Yes, the warmth and richness of the reds and purple reds are one. It an also be a feeling of the wide-open African savannas where Tsavorite Garnets are found. In fact, Tsavorite Garnets are found near, and named after, the Tsavorite National Park in Kenya. If you have ever watched Val Kidman in the movie The Ghost and the Darkness, you will have heard the name Tsavorite. Many Garnets today come from Africa. This would include Spessertine, from Namibia and Nigeria. And yes, they can also be found in Brazil. The person who wears one of these gems may actually feel, or experience, the exotic lands where these gems come from.
It is so much more enjoyable knowing about the gems you wear, their origins and stories. This means Garnets are much more than just red. There are a lot of colors, stories and personal emotion wound into these beautiful gemstones.