By her who in this month January was born, no gem save garnets should be worn, they will ensure her constancy, true friendship, and fidelity. Unknown Author

January is a cold and bitter month for us in the UK, which makes the stunning warm red garnet gemstone a perfect choice for the January birthstone. The name “garnet” is derived from the Latin “granatum” meaning “pomegranate” because the crystals resemble the red colour and seed-like form of this fruit. Not all garnets are red as many people believe, in fact they come in many colours including orange, yellow, green, purple, brown, blue, black, pink and colourless. However for the January birthstone, the deep fiery red garnet is the only desirable colour variety.

Garnet is a beautiful and very popular gemstone that has been used for thousands of years. They were given to ancient kings to wear as a talisman for protection and worn by warriors during the crusades by both Christian and Muslims to safeguard them on their travels. And according to the Talmud, the only light on Noah’s ark was provided by a large garnet. Much later on during the Middle Ages in Europe, garnet was made popular once again by monks as it was believed to enhance truth, faith and constancy, and to dispel melancholy in those who wore it.

The hardness of garnet on the Mohs’ scale is 7 to 7.5, which explains why this stunning gemstone is so excellent to work into jewellery. And to the bearer, not only is this gemstone very attractive and eye-catching, it is extremely resistant to everyday wear and tear.

Rose Quartz is an affordable alternative birthstone for January. This cloudy pink gemstone was believed by ancient Greeks to have been coloured from cloudy white to pink by the spilling of Aphrodite’s blood. Rose quartz has been used in jewellery in Europe since antiquity, Romans used to give this cloudy pink gemstone as a symbol of love and friendship. However this gemstone has recently seen a huge resurgence in popularity for use in jewellery in particular affordable modern silver jewellery.

I don’t have any Garnets, so if you have any you want to show, please send them through, or tweet me about them. @thegembank

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