January Birthstone: Garnet
Birthstones are part of a long-standing tradition. Every month is connected to at least one specific gemstone, making it particularly meaningful to those born during that month. As a result, many people adore birthstone jewelry. Some seek it out for themselves, while others consider it to be an ideal gift for a loved one. By knowing what the birthstone for the month of January is, you can find the perfect option for yourself or someone you care about.
What is the Month of January Birthstone?
Unlike some other months, January traditionally only has one birthstone. However, the term “garnet” actually includes a group of minerals, so it isn’t technically a single stone. The January stone is garnet, a highly durable gemstone that is found all around the globe.
Garnets are found in the United States, Russia, Greece, Tanzania, Madagascar, India, and several other countries. But Mandarin Spessartite Garnets – also called Mandarin garnets – are often the most expensive due to their rarity.
There is a lot of folkloric symbolism surrounding the garnet. Some think that the January birthstone brings prosperity and good luck, and it is also said to represent deep, lasting friendships. Others believe that those who have one and perform good deeds will invite and receive good things in their lives. Because of that association, the garnet even has a nickname, the “Gem of Faith.”
What Color Birthstone for January?
The January birthstone color is traditionally considered to be an intense red. In fact, the name of the gemstone is actually a reflection of the January stone color. “Garnet” comes from “gernet,” a middle English word that means “dark red.” It’s also derived from “granatum,” a Latin word that means “seed.” Many people believe that garnets resemble the brilliant red seeds you find in pomegranates.
However, garnets can come in a range of colors. Since the garnet group contains a variety of minerals, the coloring may differ. The most common color you find in garnet birthstone jewelry is a deep red, though it can have orange tinges as well. There are also bright orange, gold, green, and raspberry colored garnets. Learn more about the different types of Garnet here.
The Mandarin Garnet, which comes from Africa, is usually a vibrant orange or orange-red color. The traditional deep red garnets – which is typically the almandine mineral – are found worldwide, including in Sri Lanka, Czech Republic, Italy, Austria, the United States, and many other countries.
January Birthstone Jewelry
When it comes to garnet birthstone jewelry, there are plenty of options. First, garnets can be faceted as well as crafted into cabochons. They tend to be very transparent, so either approach can be beautiful. But they allow light to pass through the stone differently, so the looks are fairly unique.
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For faceted stones, you’ll find garnets in a variety of cuts. Round, oval, pear, emerald, princess, cushion, marquis, teardrop, and heart are all widely available. At times, there is even garnet bead jewelry around, though this is less common.
Polished and smooth cabochon garnets can also come in a range of shapes. Some are more refined, like disks and hearts, while others are more organic.
It’s also possible to purchase garnets as loose stones. When you go that route, you may find cut and cabochon garnets along with raw garnets.
Since garnets are the January birthstone, jewelry options are easy to come by. You’ll find January birthstone garnet bracelets, rings, necklaces, pendants, and earrings with relative ease. As far as supporting metals, gold, white gold, and silver are widely used. In some cases, you might even spot garnets set in rose gold or platinum.
Most January birthstone jewelry is pretty affordable. The deep red garnets you find most often aren’t particularly rare and are highly available. This helps keep the cost down, making it simpler to find garnet birthstone jewelry that fits in any budget.
However, some of the rarer garnets can be pretty expensive. Mandarin garnets can cost up to $2,000 per carat. If the Mandarin garnet is particularly large, is of high quality, or features a complex cut, it can cost even more.
There are also multi-gemstone options that feature garnet. For example, finding jewelry featuring garnets and diamonds isn’t usually challenging. You may even find options with stones like topaz, citrine, peridot, or other colored stones. If you prefer multi-gemstone jewelry pieces, the price can vary. The cost of the other stones plays a role, so you have to take that into consideration.
Stones Similar to the January Birthstone
Many stones have a look similar to garnets. When it comes to the deep red color most commonly associated with garnets, ruby, andesine-labradorite, red apatite, bixbite (red beryl), red spinel, carnelian, and red cinnabar all have a similar look. However, the cost of these alternatives can vary, and many won’t be more affordable than garnets.
One of the rarest stones that has a strong red coloring that may resemble some garnets is the red diamond. Naturally-occurring, high-quality specimens are so rare that they often sell at auctions for around $1 million USD per carat.
For the other garnet colors, there are also stones that look similar. Topaz, citrine, peridot, sapphire, zircon, tourmaline, spinel, and others may make suitable stand-ins. It all depends on the precise color you are hoping to mimic.
For example, orange sapphires can resemble Mandarin garnets. However, since they are also fairly rare, orange sapphires aren’t necessarily a cheaper or easier to find alternative. For green garnets, which are also rare and can be expensive, peridot has a similar look and is much more affordable.