January’s birthstone, the garnet, is thought to encourage sweet dreams and keep the wearer safe during travel. Garnet is known to symbolize constancy which means firmness of mind or stability. The garnet also signifies eternal friendship and trust and is the perfect gift for a friend. Garnet, derived from the Latin word gratatum, means seed and is called so because of the gemstones resemblance to a pomegranate seed. A Greek myth associated with the garnet is the story of the young goddess of sunshine, Persephone, who was abducted by Hates, god of the underworld. Hades eventually released Persephone but not before he offered her some pomegranate seeds, which guaranteed her return to him.
Historical texts suggest that the healing properties of the garnet included strength as well as protection and was often worn to relieve inflammations of the skin, regulate the heart and blood flow and aid in curing depression. Most commonly known to be a deep dark red, the garnet is found in a rainbow of colors including muted yellows, vibrant oranges, rosy pinks, lime greens and violets. This diversity is caused by fluctuating amounts of elements within the gem such as iron, calcium and manganese. References to the garnet date back to 3100 B. C. when the Egyptians used garnets as inlays in jewelry. Archaeologists have found primitive style garnet jewelry dating back to the Bronze Age.
The garnet is mined in Sri Lanka, Africa, Australia, India, Russia, South America, and in the United States, particularly in Arizona and Idaho. Not all garnet is of gem quality. Garnet is also a very effective abrasive and is used commercially for grinding and polishing. Garnet coated sandpaper is one such industrial use.
Today the garnet continues to be the protective gemstone for travel. The garnet is the suggested gem to give for the 2nd and 6th anniversary. Garnet is used in personalized jewelry to signify the wearer’s birth month, anniversary month or to celebrate the birth month of a child.