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January 12, 2022 3 min read
January's birthstone, garnet is familiar to most of us as a stone with deeply saturated red tones that mimic the color of fine wine. While it is true that the most commonly found garnets boast a deep red hue, the gem is also found in a variety of other colors and has an interesting history dating back to the Bronze age. The truth is, there is so much more to garnets than most of us know.
What’s in a Name? The word garnet comes from ‘garanatus’, the medieval Latin word for seed like, as the color of red garnets resembles tiny juice-filled pomegranate seeds.
A History of Romance –Garnets have long symbolized love and inner fire. This symbolism is in part due to the garnet’s connection to pomegranates and the ancient Greek story of the eternal union between Hades (God of the Underworld) and Persephone (the Goddess of Agriculture and Vegetation). As the legend goes, Hades fell in love with Persephone and brought her to the Underworld to live with him. Persephone eventually fell in love with Hades, but she missed her mother Demeter (Goddess of the Harvest) greatly. Her mother was so distraught by Persephone being in the Underworld that she cast a freeze and famine over the Earth and ordered Zeus to retrieve his daughter from the Underworld before she would return the climate to normal. Zeus sent Hermes to retrieve his daughter at Demeter’s request, but before Persephone left Hades, the young woman ate several seeds from a forbidden pomegranate fruit of the Underworld. Once she did this, Persephone belonged to the Underworld and each year she had to return for several months to be with Hades. In relation to this story, garnets have come to symbolize a safe return for travelers, eternal love, and inner fire.
More than just a red stone- Garnet is not a single mineral, but rather the name for an entire family of gemstones that have similar crystal structure, but different chemical compositions. Although red garnets are abundant and one of the most common gemstones found in jewelry, they come in many colors of the rainbow. Garnets are also found in shades of orange, pink, purple, green and on rare occasion a color changing blue that was only recently discovered in Madagascar in 1999. Some of the most desirable and highly valued garnets are the green and blue garnets. The highest recorded price for a single garnet was recorded in 2003 -- $6.8 million for a 4.2ct blue garnet. (1)
Here’s to Health and Protection! Due to the popular blood red color of most garnets, it’s not a surprise that they are considered a healing gem. During medieval times, illnesses like liver disease, poisons and depression were thought to be cured by garnets. Even today, some people believe that wearing garnets can help renew energy and boost confidence and inspire love.
Garnets have also been worn throughout the ages as a protective stone. Native Americans believed garnets could protect against injury and poison, and they were also a popular choice among Kings the world over. Saxon and Celtic kings also wore garnets for their protective qualities, as did King Solomon who wore garnets into battle.
The next time you’re shopping for jewelry and come across a garnet, perhaps you’ll find them a bit more interesting and take a second look. When it comes to garnets, there is definitely more than meets the eye!
Click hereto check out some of the beautiful garnet jewels currently in our collection.
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