If you were born in the month of January, you really have only one choice in birthstones - garnet. However, the garnet family is incredibly diverse, encompassing an amazing range of colors. Although the color red occurs most frequently, there are also garnets showing different shades of green, pale to bright yellow, fiery orange and fine earthy shades. The only garnet color that is rarely seen is blue, though some blue garnets have recently been discovered in Madagascar.
All of the garnets have excellent gemstone characteristics. They have very good hardness, with a rating of 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale. They are also very brilliant gems, with a refractive index about the same as sapphire and ruby. Additionally, garnet is one of the few gemstone varieties that is never treated in any way. So garnet buyers can be sure to get a completely natural gemstone.
There are in fact eight different varieties of garnet available on the market, ranging from the inexpensive pyrope and almandite to the exclusive tsavorite and demantoid. All of these garnet varieties have a similar crystal structure, but they vary slightly in their chemical composition. Here is a brief tour of your choices in garnet for your January birthstone.
The classic inexpensive red garnet, frequently with a brown or orange tint. Large stones tend to be very dark and the best color is found in the smaller sizes.
Another deep red inexpensive garnet, often with a slight violet tint. A pure deep red is the most desirable color.
A very attractive violet-red, with a lighter tone than pyrope and almandine. More expensive than the dark red garnets, but not as pricey as spessartite, tsavorite or demantoid.
A brown-red variety of garnet often known as cinnamon stone. Colored by traces of manganese and iron, hessonite is one of the nine planetary gems in the Vedic tradition.
An orange to red-orange garnet variety with exceptional brilliance. The best specimens have a mandarin orange hue and are popular for high-end jewelry.
A garnet variety that includes hessonite and tsavorite. The ordinary grossularites are an attractive yellow to golden green.
One of the rarest garnets, tsavorite, is pale to emerald green and is colored by traces of chromium and vanadium. The finest examples rival fine emerald in color, but are superior to emerald in hardness and brilliance.
The rarest and most valuable of all the garnets. The name demantoid means "diamond-like luster" and demantoid garnet is one of the few gemstones with a luster and brilliance similar to diamond. Found in green to emerald green, demantoid garnet is very rare and is typically found only in small sizes.
- First Published: November-26-2008
- Last Updated: June-27-2017
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