Birthstones: January - Garnet
One of the oldest gemstones found in jewelry form (on a mummy exceeding 5000 years old), Garnet has been admired for ages. In Ancient Rome, signet rings topped with carved garnet were used to stamp and seal important documents. Garnet was thought to be one of the precious gemstones given to King Solomon by God.
While Garnet is arguably the most commercially popular in it's red form, garnet actually comes in a variety of colors ranging from red to orange, to yellow, to green, even to purple. Not only is this enchanting jewel the January birthstone, it also serves as the second anniversary gemstone.
Shopping for Garnet
When shopping for Garnet, you should know these four things:
1. Garnet comes in a variety of colors - if you are looking for a color in particular, specify which you are looking for. Since garnet's come in a variety of colors, you might be expecting a red garnet and your custom piece will come back with a green garnet instead. Always important to verify!
2. Garnet can be imitated by many different substances including glass, plastic, moissanite and others. Always work with a jeweler you trust - but if you're still not sure you're looking at a garnet, ask your jeweler to show you how or why it is garnet (working with a jeweler that is a graduate gemologist can assist with this).
3. Not all inclusions are bad in garnet - demantoid garnet is renowned and significantly more valuable with horsetail inclusions. Horsetail inclusions can give the garnet the illusion of having a firework display internally. If you want a clear, inclusion free stone, specify that with your jeweler.
4. Certain garnets are more readily available in larger sizes - and the price will reflect that. For example, high quality red garnet is common in large and small sizes, while green garnet (tsavorite) is less common and therefore the price will reflect that.
Caring for Garnet
Garnet falls between 6.5 and 7.5 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. This is slightly softer than ruby or sapphire, but harder than stones like opal or pearl. This means daily wear and other gemstones can scratch garnet, and garnet can scratch other gemstones. It should be stored away from other gemstones for this reason.
Most garnet is not treated, so it is safe to use an ultrasound to clean your jewelry. However, SOME garnets can be fracture filled. This means any fractures within a gemstone are impregnated with glass or another glass-like filler to improve clarity. If your stone is treated that way, it is not safe to use in an ultrasound. If you're unsure, it's always best practice to use warm water, a soft bristled toothbrush and mild dish soap to keep your jewelry sparkling.