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The January Birthstone

Learn about the gemstone associated with January: garnet. This common red stone may surprise you.
The idea of a different gemstone representing each month of the year dates back to Biblical times. The Jewish historian Josephus made a record of Aaron from the Book of Exodus wearing a breastplate decorated by twelve stones all the way back in the first century. We will be exploring the properties and traditions of each stone monthly on Facet. In January, the American Gem Society (AGS) recognizes garnet as the stone of honor. You might think you know this discernible beauty, but it holds many surprises that may amaze you.

Theorists hypothesize that the fruit in the Garden of Eden was a pomegranate, not an apple.

What pops into your head when you think of a garnet? The color red? That would be the prevalent answer, since even its name hints at this color. According to the AGS, “Garnet, a Latin name, is derived from the word ‘pomegranate,’ a fruit that has a red coloration similar to that of the most common garnet stone.” But wait there’s more! As you might have guessed, garnets come in other colors than deep red. Composed of magnesium, iron, or manganese with aluminum or iron, the hard mineral varies in color from shades of red, brown, orange, yellow, and even green. Every color of the spectrum, except blue!

Q. What do you call orange garnet?

A. Spessartite Garnet. 

To get a gift of garnet is to receive physical and emotional healing. Who wouldn't want that?
Even more curious are the stone’s legendary attributes. The wearer of garnet is said to receive great gifts, including health, wealth, and eternal happiness. Stories abound about garnet. 

Legends called it the “Gem of Faith,” as wearers of it who did good deeds received great rewards, however, wearers of garnet who did evil acts received severe punishment. On the lighter side, people of the middle ages believed garnet to grant lasting friendship, strength, and protection. This gem was said to regulate the heart, stop bleeding, and to protect the wearer from blood poisoning and illnesses (not sure if this works if you wear green garnet, unless, perhaps, you have alien blood). Garnet and pomegranates were linked with eternity in many Greek myths, including the lure of Persephone back to the Underworld by Hades. Go back even further in history to find that ancient Egyptians considered it to be the symbol of life.

Even if you aren’t a January baby, this is one fabulous gem to wear.

If you know Steven Universe, you know this Garnet.
Other notable facts
  • Garnet is a durable gemstone that ranges from 6.5–7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness.


  • It is found in Asia, Africa, India, Russia, Australia, Europe, and the U.S.


  • Garnets are formed when temperatures and pressure are high. Geologists often use garnets to gauge temperature and pressure that was present during their formation.


  • Most mined garnet is obtained for industrial uses, and made into abrasives. Few mined garnets are pure enough to be cut as gemstones.

  • For Steven Universe fans, or a parent of one, you might know Garnet as the de-facto leader of the Crystal Gems. Pragmatic and even-keeled, Garnet kicks into high gear when Steven and his planet Earth need to be protected.



Now that you have more insight into this exceptional gemstone, and are excited to incorporate garnet into your next jewelry project, here are four inspirational ideas.
January birthstones Garnet necklace
You'll find instructions for this necklace featuring 3 mm faceted garnet with complementary crystal bicones at January birthstones: Garnet necklace.
January birthstone Garnet bracelet
For a chunky garnet bracelet, see the directions for January birthstone: Garnet nugget bracelet.
January birthstone Garnet chain earrings
For delicate drop earrings by Kelsey Lawler, view January birthstone: Garnet chain earrings.
Turquoise hero
Can you identify this and all the birthstones for December?
Curious about the stones that represent other months?