January’s Gorgeous Birthstone Is More Than Just a Pretty Gem

You may know garnets as the red birthstone of January, but did you know they also represent friendship, loyalty and trust? Sturdy enough for daily wear or evening attire, and available in a vast color palette, the garnet has a fascinating backstory filled with historical and cultural importance. And it isn’t only January babies who get to revel in garnet glory. The garnet is also the second anniversary stone and the zodiacal stone for Aquarius. Not to mention the stone has plenty to offer anyone who wears it. So even if your love wasn’t born in January, they will no doubt benefit from this stone’s incredible beauty, and perhaps its healing powers and protective qualities as well.

History and Lore

Known as the traveler’s stone, the garnet is rumored to have led Noah’s Ark through the night. Worn by men and women alike, the garnet has long been the gemstone of choice since the days of ancient Egypt. They were often used in Roman insignia rings to stamp wax seals on important documents. Clergy and noblemen wore them in the Middle Ages. They were known as the ‘warrior stone’ during the Great Crusade. Faberge was known to use them (particularly the variation known as green demantoid diamonds) and they were favored by Russian royalty. They were even briefly used as bullets in Asia and the American Southwest, which certainly speaks to their durability.

Go truly vintage and add a splash of color and history to your outfit with this
15k Gold and Garnet Brooch Circa 1880.

15k gold and garnet brooch

The Meaning Behind the Stone

There are more than a few beliefs associated with the garnet. As the stone that signifies primordial fire, purification, and love, it is believed to bring out strong emotions, boost your creativity, rejuvenate your love life, ward off nightmares, promote success in business, restore your health (especially as relates to the heart) and protect you from a myriad of ailments. It is said to keep you safe on your travels and is considered a fortuitous gift for anyone undergoing some type of transition, providing the wearer with the willpower and confidence to take on any challenge thrown their way. It is even thought to help those struggling with the loss of a loved one. With so much to offer the wearer, it’s a wonder not everyone is wearing garnets!

David Yurman Cable Classic Collection® Bracelet with Garnet with 14K Yellow Gold

Cable Classic Bracelet

Healing Properties and Benefits

The garnet helps with depression and ridding the mind of negative thoughts and patterns, promoting mental health and clarity while instilling great self-confidence. It is also supposed to help with all things cardiovascular: assisting in lowering inflammation, improving blood flow and circulation, encouraging the production of hemoglobin, preventing and treating hemorrhages and healing any number of heart ailments. If your heart is having any problems whatsoever, a garnet may be the perfect talisman to help you with your recovery.

Sweet 14K gold heart studs for your sweetie just in time for Valentine’s Day.

These gold earrings feature a splash of color courtesy of the delicate
yet bold red garnet stone in the center of each heart.

Garnet Gold Heart Earrings

A Nitty-Gritty Guide to Choosing Your Garnet

Garnets are not actually one type of stone. They are group of closely related minerals, with almandine and pyrope being the most popular.

Garnets are found in metamorphic rocks, which are rocks in the Earth’s crust that are altered through intense heat and pressure. Metamorphic rocks are so common that garnets can be found on every continent. The reason why red garnets are the most known is because they are the most common. The rarity of colored garnets comes down to science - garnets need certain elements to be present at the time of their formation, which will then determine their eventual color.

All garnets have the same essential crystal structure: X3Y2(SiO4)3.

From this equation there are two overall groups:

Aluminum: X3Al2(SiO4)3
Calcium: Ca3Y2(SiO4)3

Garnet Earrings

Grading Your Garnet

Garnets range from 6.5-7.5 on Mohs scale, which measures a stone’s durability. The lower the number, the higher the possibility of chipping or scratching, which makes it all the more important to ensure when you choose a stone, you choose the best quality garnet for your jewelry. While they are typically stable stones that are unaffected by common chemicals and light, they should be kept away from any caustic chemicals like cleaning products. Like most types of crystal, they are also susceptible to high temperatures and thermal shock. They should be stored separately from other jewelry in a fabric-lined jewel box or jewelry bag.


Not all garnets are red. In fact, garnets come in a variety of colors, from oranges, yellows, and reds to greens and blues (which are the rarest). So once you select which color you want, how do you know which stone to choose? Top-quality garnets should be vivid and highly saturated in color. That means a green garnet, for example, should be truly green, not blue-green or yellow-green, and the color itself should not be too dark or too light.

Garnet Stone


The average clarity of a garnet will vary from type to type. To grade a garnet’s clarity, you must first identify the type of garnet. Red garnets (almandine, pyrope, and rhodolite) usually don’t have inclusions you can see with the naked eye and require a magnifier to see any internal flaws. Other garnets, like orange ones (spessartine and hessonite) tend to have eye-visible inclusions. As with all colored gemstones, the less inclusions there are overall, the better the clarity grading will be.


Be aware that carat size is not the same across different types of gemstones (and isn’t even necessarily the same within each type of gemstone). Because different garnets naturally have different densities, grading is dependent on the type of garnet. Some types of garnets are more commonly found in smaller sizes. As a result, those varieties with greater carats are more valuable than those that are commonly found in larger sizes.


Garnets can be cut into any standard shape to best suit a piece of fine jewelry, making them incredibly versatile and useful in any style piece. Depending on the garnet’s quality, the type of cut may be chosen to better retain more of the gemstone’s natural weight.

Dainty but bold, this faceted garnet and 14K gold briolette necklace from the Hamilton Calypso Collection is a beautiful yet simple piece that can be worn alone as a signature piece or layered with other necklaces to add a pop of color.

14k Garnet Necklace

Whether it’s a birthday or anniversary gift, or you simply want to show some love to a special person in your life, you can count on the knowledgeable people at Hamilton Jewelers to help you choose the perfect piece of fine jewelry. Call us, reach out to our online concierge, or come into one of our stores and let us help you find exactly what you need.