What’s the January birthstone?
Unlike December, where there are four birthstones, the January birthstone is a single stone: the garnet.
But—surprise—on the bright side, the garnet comes in a variety of colors. Most people think of garnet as a deep red stone (which it is as shown in the picture on the right).
Red garnets have a long history, but modern gem buyers can pick from a rich palette of garnet colors: greens, oranges, pinkish oranges, deeply saturated purplish reds, and even some blues. But not all garnets are as abundant as the red ones. A green garnet, tsavorite, is rarer and needs rarer rock chemistries and conditions to form. The variety of garnets is shown in the photo below. To learn more about the Garnet, its history, myths and varieties go to the encyclopedia of gems. It is published by GIA, an authority on everything gem.
A brief history of the Garnet (source: GIA educational site)
Centuries later, in Roman scholar Pliny’s time (23 to 79 AD), red garnets were among the most widely traded gems. In the Middle Ages (about 475 to 1450 AD), red garnet was favored by clergy and nobility.
Red garnet’s availability increased with the discovery of the famous Bohemian garnet deposits in central Europe around 1500. This source became the nucleus of a regional jewelry industry that reached its peak in the late 1800s.