January's birthstone: Garnet.
Garnet Powers: Facilitates night vision, ensures success.
Alternative Birthstone: Emerald
Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January and the traditional anniversary gemstone for the second year of marriage. Archaeologists have found primitive garnet jewelry among the graves of lake dwellers which dates the use of this popular gemstone to the Bronze age. Today they are mined in Brazil, Madagascar, India, Siberia, Africa, Sri Lanka, and the United States.
Not all garnets are of gem quality. "Raw" garnets make a very effective abrasive and are used commercially for grinding and polishing. Believe it or not, garnet-coated sandpaper is popular for industrial use.
Color Me Beautiful
Garnets are extremely diverse and offer enough variety in appearance (and color) to suit every taste. Although you may think of garnet as a red gem, the truth is that the garnet family of gemstones comes in a broad spectrum of colors, except blue.
Garnets of muted yellows, vibrant oranges, rosy pinks, lime greens, and violets are all part this gemstone's rainbow of hues. The diversity is due to unique combinations of elements within each particular gem, such as iron, calcium, and manganese.
What's In A Name?
Look at the seeds of a pomegranate and you'll immediately understand how the word "garnet" was derived from the Latin word "granatus," meaning "grain" or "seed." Garnet earned its name because of its close resemblance to the succulent red pomegranate seed. But don't bite into a garnet! Like a diamond, a garnet is strong. It has a Moh's scale hardness 6.5 to 7.5…definitely not tooth-friendly.
A Greek myth tells the story of Peresphone, the young goddess of sunshine, who was abducted by Hades, god of the underworld. The devil eventually released her, but not before he offered her some pomegranate seeds, which guaranteed her return to him. Thus garnets have come to represent fidelity and commitment.
Legends, myths, and traditions abound when it comes to garnets. It is believed to be one of the 12 gemstones in Aaron's breastplate in the Hebrew tradition, while Christians consider it is symbolic of Christ's sacrifice and the blood of their savior. Many faiths claim that Noah hung a large red garnet in the ark for illumination. In the Koran, garnets are believed to illuminate the Fourth Heaven of the Moslems. On a more earthly plane, Egyptians believed that garnets protected them from snakebite and was an antidote to food poisoning.
A gift of garnet is thought to be symbolic of love and the desire for a loved one's safe travel and speedy homecoming. It is January's birthstone, but far from being only a winter gem, the garnet, with its brilliance and multitude of colors, is truly a gem for any season.
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