Birthstones are gems that are associated with the month that a person was born. Every month has a beautiful and unique gemstone, some of which you may be more familiar with than others, with January’s being garnet. Traditionally these birthstones were believed to bring good luck to those who wore them. But today, birthstones are often given as gifts, used for fashion pieces, and even engagement rings! Gemstones come in all different colors, and while some are more popular than others, many can act as a great diamond alternative or accent stone for your engagement ring.
What Is a Garnet?
If you’re lucky enough to be born in January, your birthstone is garnet — a beautiful and typically red colored stone. In fact, ‘Garnet’ which is granatus in Latin, means “pomegranate,” which describes its color perfectly. Garnets have been used in jewelry pieces like necklaces, since ancient Egyptian times. According to ancient Indian astrology, the garnet is believed to eliminate negative feelings and rather instill self-confidence and promote clarity of the mind, as well as creative thinking. It is also thought to be a gemstone that will keep one safe while traveling. Whatever symbolism you choose to believe, one thing is certain, it’s a stunning stone! Garnets can be found in various regions around the world, but Africa supplies much of the world’s supply.
Most widely known for its deep red color, garnets actually come in a variety of other colors which makes them unique! Orange, purple, black, green, and blue (although extremely rare) are all common colors for this gemstone. From the purple garnet with its royal plum color to the Demantoid garnet with its vivid green color, there’s no doubt that garnets are a thing of beauty. Some garnets even come in color-changing varieties, where the stone will reveal different colors depending on the light. While appearing to look gray, the stone will then change to a purple hue when viewed under a different light! If your birthstone is garnet, but you’re not a fan of the red color, chances are there’s another garnet that has a color you’ll love!
While garnet is typically bought in its red color, the range of colors available for this stone impacts the rarity, and thus, the price tag. The Demantoid garnet, for example, is one of the rarest and expensive types of Garnet, with a price of around $1,000 per carat. A classic garnet will have a starting price of a few hundred dollars, but that price will change depending on the quality and size of the garnet. Garnets are sometimes confused with rubies, however, rubies are much more rare and expensive than garnets. And, while similar-looking, rubies actually have a much more brilliant red color.
The rarity of a garnet depends on the specific variety you have your eye on. Some can be much rarer, and thus more expensive, such as the Demantoid mentioned above. However, the popular deep red garnets are much more common.
Garnet Engagement Rings
If you’re considering a diamond alternative, like a Garnet, for the center stone of your engagement ring, we would advise against it. The reason is, although more affordable than a lab-grown diamond or a ruby, Garnets are a softer gemstone. If you plan on wearing your engagement ring on a daily basis, you’ll need a gemstone that can stand up to daily wear. According to the Mohs scale, which measures the hardness of minerals, a Garnet has a hardness of around 6.5 – 7.5. A diamond, to compare, has a hardness of 10. Since garnets are softer gemstones, they can be easily scratched or damaged. However, for simple jewelry pieces such as earrings or necklaces, or as an accent stone to your lab grown diamond center stone, garnets look great and will hold up longer. Garnet can be a great gift to someone celebrating a birthday in January, or someone who simply loves the look! Clean Origin does not currently sell garnets, but they are easy to find through other online retailers.
If you still want a diamond alternative that looks like a Garnet, we would recommend the Ruby. The ruby has a hardness of 9 and is much more durable than the Garnet. The downside is that rubies are more expensive and rare.
How To Care For Garnet
All gemstones require some level of care in order to keep the gem looking shiny, new and in great condition. Because garnet is susceptible to scratches, be cautious when wearing this stone (if you choose to wear it often). Jewelry and rings that feature garnet should be removed when working with your hands, participating in high contact sports, or when you are more likely to hit or bump your stone against something. To clean your garnet, is very similar to cleaning a diamond. Use a soft toothbrush with warm water and mild soap, and gently brush the stone and setting.
Remember, even if you’re not born in January, you can still don a stunning garnet birthstone. Many brides choose stunning birthstones such as emeralds, rubies, and sapphires. It’s wonderful to have so many choices and if you’re born in April your birthstone is our personal favorite, the diamond– although we prefer them lab-grown!