January Birthstone Garnet

Garnet January Birthstone

Garnets are a set of closely related minerals forming a group, with gemstones in almost every color.

The garnet group of related mineral species offers gems of every hue, including fiery red pyrope, vibrant orange spessartine, and rare intense-green varieties of grossular and andradite.

Red garnets have a long history, but modern gem buyers can pick from a rich palette of garnet colors: greens, oranges, pinkish oranges, deeply saturated purplish reds, and even some blues. Red garnet is one of the most common and widespread of gems. But not all garnets are as abundant as the red ones. A green garnet, tsavorite, is rarer and needs rarer rock chemistries and conditions to form.


Garnet is the birthstone for January and the gem for the second anniversary.


Photographed from the GIA Collection for the CIBJO project. Top row, left to right: 16.94 ct yellow oval garnet; 19.89 ct round orange spessartite garnet; 44.28 ct round, deep pink rhodolite garnet; 16.99 ct reddish orange cushion cut garnet; and 7.26 ct cushion cut tsavorite garnet. Bottom row, left to right: 8.20 ct oval greenish yellow garnet; 12.36 ct oval golden yellow garnet; 9.22 ct pink pear cut garnet; 14.53 ct light green cushion cut grossular garnet and 4.32 ct bluish green cushion cut garnet.

Thousands of years ago, red garnet necklaces adorned the necks of Egypt’s pharaohs, and were entombed with their mummified corpses as prized possessions for the afterlife. In ancient Rome, signet rings with carved garnets were used to stamp the wax that secured important documents.

The term carbuncle was often used in ancient times to refer to red garnets, although it was used for almost any red stone. Carbuncle was thought to be one of the four precious stones given to King Solomon by God.

Centuries later, in Roman scholar Pliny’s time (23 to 79 AD), red garnets were among the most widely traded gems. In the Middle Ages (about 475 to 1450 AD), red garnet was favored by clergy and nobility.

Red garnet’s availability increased with the discovery of the famous Bohemian garnet deposits in central Europe around 1500. This source became the nucleus of a regional jewelry industry that reached its peak in the late 1800s.

Antique Pyrope Hairpin Garnet crown
Antique hairpin set with Bohemian pyrope garnets from the Czech Republic, now in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.


According to folklore and stories throughout history, many gemstones are thought to offer mystic healing to its wearer.  So whether shopping for a gift of fine jewelry, or considering a gift for yourself along the way, consider the healing properties of these fine gemstones. Birthday gemstones may not bake your cookies and wrap your gifts for you, but they will make you feel better while doing so.

Garnets Healing Powers – Aids blood, heart, and lungs and is known to promote romantic love, passion, sensuality, and intimacy.