January birthstone

January birthstone

Winter means long dark nights and snow-covered streets. Perhaps that is why the coldest month of the year should be associated with a fiery and passionate gemstone. Indeed, January birthstone, garnet resembles the sun rolling behind the horizon, it is red and lit from within. In addition to its impressive appearance, the stone is able to positively affect those born in the first month of the year, that is, Capricorns and Aquarius. The beauty of the red gem is undoubtedly mesmerizing; this is the reason why it has been adorning jewelry for more than two millennia.

January birthstone, hessonite garnet for necklace

The History of January Birthstone, garnet

Garnet, the January birthstone, is a symbol of love and fidelity. Jewelry inlaid with this jewel was widespread among the Greeks, Scythians, Persians, and Romans. In ancient Greece, these stones were called ‘anthrax’, which means burning coal or amber. To Ancient Romans, they were known as carbuncles.

Garnet embellished (and still do!) talismans, love tokens, rings, earrings, headdresses, military armor, and court clothes. They were admired and even mentioned in the literature, for example, in "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" by Arthur Conan Doyle. Ironically, carbuncle can’t be blue. Some of the varieties of garnet exist in blue but they are fairly rare.

The term garnet was coined in 1270 by the medieval alchemist Albert Magnus. He noticed that the dark red crystals of the stone resembled the grains of the Phoenician apple, i.e. pomegranate. Garnet is a distorted Latin word ‘granum’ meaning a grain.

January birthstone, hessonite garnet for necklace

Garnet, January birthstone for Jewelry making

Properties of the January Birthstone

January birthstone, garnet is a gem of medium hardness. On the Mohs scale representing the hardness of minerals, it gains 6.5-7.5 points. Since the stone is not the hardest, you should store it separately from diamonds, topaz, and other gems. Otherwise, harder gems may scratch it. The most scratch-resistant types of the gem are pyrope and almandine. It comes as no surprise that they are jewelers’ favorites.

Garnets are known for their pyroelectric properties. If you rub the stone well enough, it will start attracting fluff, hair, and light stuff. Combined with a vibrant unearthly appearance, this ‘magic’ forged a reputation of a mysterious stone.

Since garnet is not just a single gem but a whole family of minerals, it amazes with the richness of colors and properties. Let's take a close look at two large groups of garnets that differ in their chemical composition and look.

January birthstone garnet beads for jewelry

January birthstone: Varieties of Garnet

There are two large groups of garnets: pyralspites and ugrandites.


These garnets feature aluminum in their chemical composition. Predominantly, all these garnets are red, which explains the name pyralspite – the Greek word "Pyr" means fire. Only pyralspite garnets are able to exhibit the effects of asterism (a six-pointed star) and cat’s eye (a shimmering stripe resembling an eye of a predator).


Pyropes are perhaps the most beautiful of all red garnet. In the past, these fiery gemstones were called Bohemian ruby (after the Bohemian region in the Czech Republic), Arizona ruby, and carbuncle. They are highly prized for their rich red, purple, red-brown, maroon, and yellow-red colors. This type of garnet is mined in the Czech Republic, Tanzania, India, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Norway, Russia, etc. Tanzania and Sri Lanka supply pyrope garnets with alexandrite effect meaning they display different colors in natural and artificial light.


Almandines are the most common gemstone garnet. Almandine is a distorted name of the Alabanda area in Asia Minor where these stones were found in Antiquity. Occasionally, these gems are called Oriental garnet and Tyrolean garnet (after the region in Germany). Their colors are red, purplish-red, Burgundy wine, red-brown, violet-red, etc. The best almandines come from Sri Lanka, India, and Brazil. Gems featuring asterism are found in the USA.


These garnets are an isomorphous blend of pyrope and almandine. They are available in colors from light red to purplish pink. Rhodolites are mined in the USA, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, and Madagascar.


These garnets got their name from the Spessart plateau in Bavaria where they were first discovered. Although widespread, jewelry-grade stones are found rarely. Their colors range from orange and red-orange to yellow-brown. It is not uncommon for spessartines to have liquid inclusions. The gems are mined in Russia, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Madagascar, Mexico, Norway, Sweden, and Italy.

Malaia Garnet

Discovered in Tanzania in 1979, it is a mixture of pyrope and spessartine with a dash of grossular. In the Swahili language, its name can be translated as hermit or outcast. These stones offer a wide range of colors: light red, pinkish-orange, red-orange, yellowish-orange, etc. Some specimens display different colors in natural and artificial lighting. This effect can be explained by the residual amount of chromium or vanadium. Malaia garnets are mined in Tanzania and Kenya.

Ugrandite Garnet

The second large group of garnets has calcium in its composition. Below, are some of the best-known varieties of ugrandite garnet


Uvarovite is an emerald green garnet. It was named after Count S.S. Uvarov, the President of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. Uvarovites are typically small (1-2 mm) crystals. Normally, they are embedded in marbles or other rocks. Larger crystals lend themselves to faceting. Tiny crystals smothering a mother rock provide a sugar coating effect. Uvarovites are mined in Russia, the USA (Oregon), Canada, Finland, Norway, and South Africa.


These garnets got their name because of their statement green color resembling gooseberries – the Latin word for these berries is grossularia. Green crystals are rarely transparent; that’s why they are less common in jewelry. On the other hand, light green, yellowish, and orange grossulars are clear. The most valuable light green grossular is mined in Pakistan. It is sometimes called the Pakistani emerald.

Grossulars offer a few varieties:

- Ttsavorite was named after the Tsavo National Park on the border of Tanzania and Kenya. Due to its rarity combined with a marketing strategy of Tiffany & Co. (the company discovered the mineral in 1967), it is among the most expensive types of garnet.

- Hydrogrossular is either opaque or translucent garnet of the following colors: white, pinkish, bright green, and dark green with yellowish tints.

- Hessonite – its name comes from the Greek word ‘gasson’ that means inferior. Sometimes it is called cinnamon stone. It is available in honey-yellow, honey-orange, brown, brown-red, yellow, orange, and red colors.

- Andradite - this garnet was named after the Portuguese mineralogist Jose Bonifacio de Andrade e Silva. Andradite itself is not very popular as a gemstone but its varieties are of a strong interest in jewelry-making.

- Demantoid is highly valued for its diamond-like sheen. It exists in emerald green, bright green, yellow, pistachio, and olive colors. Sometimes, demantoids have needle-looking inclusions (byssolite fibers) giving them even more charm.

- Topazolite is a clear variety of andradite. It got its name because of its similarity with topaz. Its colors are yellow, honey, and golden.

- Melanitis is black andradite containing titanium. Its name is a derivative from the Greek ‘molasses’ standing for black.

January birthstone for Sale

Garnet, January birthstone for sale

January birthstone for Sale

January birthstone, garnet is an indisputably beautiful and charming gemstone. Those who were born in the beginning of the year can reap many benefits of owning a garnet stone. Besides its undisputable aesthetical values, it is prized for its healing and magical properties. Whether you’re on the hunt for a spectacular amulet or statement stone for your hand-made jewelry, we’ve got you covered. KenKenGems delivers a plentitude of alluring garnet in strands and loose, set in precious metals as well as one-of-a-kind large crystals. Make sure to check out our catalog for a great selection of January birthstones.

January birthstone for jewelry, for sale

Wide variety of our January birthstone collection