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January Birthstone: Garnet


Family: Garnet

Color: Red, Green, Yellow, Orange, Brown, Pink, Purple, Gray, Black

Mohs Hardness: 7-7.5

Garnet GLORIOUS Garnet! What a way to start the year? January babies, you are blessed with an incredible gemstone GROUP as your birthstone.

I often overlooked Garnet for its murky brownish-red appearance, but I was quite wrong to do so! Though it is largely thought of as being a deep red hue, Garnet comes in a variety of autumnal colors due to differing chemical compositions. And let me tell you: Not all Garnet is created equally.

For January, I would like to share a few of my favorite Garnet friends and hope you grow to be equally as excited about this GLORIOUS Garnet Group as I am!

Grossular Garnet

The name "Grossular" is derived from the Latin word for "Gooseberry". The first grossular garnets found were described as having the same characteristic pale green (minty) color as the gooseberry plant.

This is actually a bit misleading as not all Grossular Garnets have this pale green hue. In fact, Grossular garnets have the widest range of colors of any garnet type. Ranging from transparent to opaque, green to yellow brown, yellow-orange to reddish orange and even colorless, there is a Grossular Garnet out there for everyone.

Tsavorite Garnet

Tsavorite is the rare, transparent green to yellowish green variety of grossular garnet. This gemstone is what I think of as a "smart man's Emerald". With the same rich hue of emerald, greater hardness and a less brittle crystal composition, a Tsavorite Garnet is perfect for everyday wear.

In 1970, the Scottish geologist Campbell R. Bridges discovered a source of tsavorite in Kenya. Campbell Bridges' son has a booth at the AGTA Gem Fair in Tucson--One of my favorite annual stops to marvel at the glorious garnets in his possession!

The name "Tsavorite" was coined in 1974 by Tiffany & Co. president Henry Platt to honor the location of tsavorite's first discovery in the Tsavo National Park in Kenya.

Tsavorite is in very limited availability. Stones over two carats are incredibly rare.

Spessartite Garnet

Spessartite (aka: Spessartine) garnet is a radiant orangy-red/reddish-orange gemstone

coveted by gemologists and jewelry collectors around the world. Sometimes called "Mandarin Garnet" due to its orange base hue, manganese in its chemical composition gives the gem its brilliant orange coloration.

The first gem quality Spessartite garnets were found in 1991 near the Kunene River, which runs along the border of Namibia and Angola. With its vibrant sun-like hue, Spessartite seems to radiate from within.

Rhodolite Garnet

Rhodolite Garnets have a gorgeous purplish red to reddish purple color. Rhodolite Garnet is named after the Greek 'rhodon' meaning "rose" and 'lithos' meaning "stone" due to its pinkish, rose-like coloration.

In the 1880s, Rhodolite was discovered in North Carolina, but very few, if any, are found there today.

Rhodolite Garnets have long been a favorite gemstone of famous jewelers. Beautiful Rhodolite gems can be seen in the works of Fabergé, Paulding Farnham (of Tiffany & Co.), and JAR.

Demantoid Garnet

First discovered in 1868 in the Ural Mountains of Russia — the esteemed birthplace of other noteworthy gems such as Alexandrite — Demantoid Garnets were very popular with Russian nobility in the middle of the 1800’s.

As the name implies, this gemstone possesses qualities usually associated with diamonds, such as very high light dispersion that reflects the full array of spectral hues within the stone. Demantoid’s dispersion is very rare for a colored stone and is even higher than that of diamond.

The finest demantoids contain long, fine, golden-colored inclusions that cluster together to form inclusions that are referred to as “horsetails”. The more distinctive and prominent the horsetail pattern, the higher the value of the gemstone.

How cool are these crazy inclusions?!

Garnet Inclusions Inside DIAMONDS!

And now the thing that makes me love garnets the most... Garnets are strong little buggers that form under the same inhospitable conditions as diamonds! Sometimes, garnets can even be the "seed" upon which diamonds start to grow!

While some garnet inclusions within diamonds appear so dark they are almost black--just flecks of yuck inside the clear crystal--other garnet inclusions maintain a full crystal form and light tone like beautiful cubes of red floating within an endless ice.

Imagine a diamond cut to highlight this magical internal stone... Be still, my heart!

Garnet Inclusion Inside Diamond Octahedron

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