Garnet refers to a group of silicate minerals. While most people picture a deep red mineral when they think of garnet, garnets can actually come in virtually any color.
Physical Properties of Garnet
They are January’s birthstone, and include a number of different species according to chemical composition. Species of garnet include pyrope, almandine, spessartine, grossular, uvarovite, and andradite.
Garnets may be red, orange, brown, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, black, or even transparent and colorless. Blue garnets are the rarest, and indeed, the first recorded blue garnet was not located until the 1990s, when it was unearthed in Bekily, Madagascar.
Some garnets even have an iridescent, color-changing effect, and are regularly mistaken for alexandrite, a mineral with a similar appearance.
While garnets have varying chemical compositions, they share a similar crystal structure. The hardness can vary quite a bit. The harder types of garnet are sometimes used in industry as abrasives. There are also synthetic garnets which are made in laboratories.
List of Gemstone Meanings: For our full list of gemstone meanings.
Garnets have been used decoratively throughout history. Indeed, in the Late Antique Roman and Migration Periods, garnets were among the most commonly used gemstones in existence. Archaeologists have found many items which included garnet inlaid in gold settings using a cloisonne technique. This style is so pervasive in historical artisan crafts that it is actually referred to as garnet cloisonne.
Today, garnets are still valued as beautiful gemstones, and are often used in jewelry. Garnet is the state mineral of Connecticut and the gemstone of New York. A specific form of garnet called star garnet is the state gemstone of Idaho. Garnets are still used as abrasives in industrial applications because of their hardness. When combined with high pressure water, garnet is hard enough to cut steel.
Metaphysical Properties of Garnet
Garnet is January’s birthstone, which makes it a very popular gemstone for jewelry and gifts for that month. The stone is used to symbolize faith, love, and emotional balance, particularly for people who suffer from self-destructive anger. Garnet is believed to balance out these bottled up emotions and diffuse them, creating a more serene state. Garnet is associated with passion as well as commitment.
In folk remedies, garnet is associated with water as an element, and is sometimes used to treat circulation problems as well as to balance out menstrual cycles in women. In Feng Shui, garnet is placed in the northwest corner of a room for protection during travel, in the center of a room for grounding and balance, in the north for success, and in the southwest for partnership.
Disclaimer: Garnet should not be used instead of regular medical treatment, but in addition to it. Always seek professional help when dealing with health related problems.