The Jewelry Insider

January 7, 2011

Garnet, the birthstone for January, is one of the most versatile gemstones on the market today.

For the curious, here’s a little history, a little lore, and a little nudge to help you find some great garnet gems at prices that will make you forget we have four more months left of winter.

Garnets come in a rainbow of colors, from deep red to tangerine orange to lime green to pale pink, as well as purple, gold and brown.

The name garnet most likely was derived from the pomegranate, a fruit whose deep red-purple color resembles some varieties of the stone. Many ancient pieces of garnet jewelry are studded with tiny red gems that look like a cluster of pomegranate seeds.

Garnet is found all over the world, including Africa, Australia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, North America, South America and Southeast Asia.

Throughout history, garnets have been prized for their rich hues and supposed mystical properties. The stone was a favorite of ancient Egyptian jewelry artisans. Demantoid garnet was used lavishly by the Tsars of Russia.

Travelers carried the gem to protect them against accidents, and garnet was thought to protect its wearer from a range of ailments, ward off evil spirits, spark creativity and dispel anger. The stones are also said to light up the night and protect their owners from nightmares.

Garnet’s various types range from 6-7 on the Mohs scale of hardness, which means that the stone is susceptible to nicks and cracks caused by impact.

To clean garnet, use warm soapy water and a soft brush. Ultrasonic cleaning is safe for most types of garnet except demantoid. Avoid steam cleaning.

Here is my favorite garnet jewelry deal right now – a cocktail ring-sized center stone set in 14kt gold flanked by two diamond accents. Retail was $679 but it’s now listed for only $222.96 on JewelClub. That’s a lot of look for that price. Got any birthday girls to buy for this month?

Or click here for more Garnet Gem deals on

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