Garnets, the Modern and Ancient birthstone of January, have been known and used in jewellery for thousands of years. Legend says that Noah used a garnet lantern to safely steer his Ark through the darkness of the night and the great flood. Garnets are found in jewellery from ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman eras. Many courageous discoverers and travelers wore garnets for protection, as they were considered popular talismans and protective stones, because it was believed in those days that garnets illuminate the night and prevent their wearer from any sort of evil. Today science explained to us that the proverbial luminosity of garnet is caused by its high refraction of light.

Although the colour red is the one which occurs most frequently, there are also garnets showing different shades of green, pale to bright yellow, fiery orange and fine earth- and umbra-shades. Only blue is a colour which is not available in garnet. Garnets are gemstones which are in high demand and are often worked into pieces of jewellery - especially since today not only the traditional gemstone colours red, blue and green are cherished by the consumer, but the intermediate shades and hues are also very popular. Garnets are unusual because their tone can change depending on whether they’re seen in natural or artificial light.


Some of the alternately-coloured garnets are very famous. Spessartine garnets are a bright orange to orange-red. These are extremely rare. There is a type of garnet called a Mandarine garnet which is also orange. It too is rare.


There are even green garnets, even though one doesn’t associate this color with garnet. The star among green garnets is rare demantoid. It shows enormous brilliance, higher even than that of diamond. Russia’s leading court jeweler Carl Fabergé loved the brilliant green garnet from the Urals more than any other stone, and liked to use it in his creations.


David van Niekerk
Tagged: Garnet January