January's birthstone

Unravelling the meaning behind garnets

The new year has finally landed, and many of you are probably busy setting yourself goals (hitting the treadmill tomorrow, promise!), nursing food hangovers (why is roast kumara so bloody moreish?) and wondering if 2017 will be any better than 2016 (and let’s be honest, 2016 set the bar pretty low).
While we don’t know what the rest of the year has in store, we’re happy to report that the first few days of 2017 have already delivered something very special: Garnets.

As the birthstone for January, a piece of sterling silver garnet jewellery is the perfect accessory for those born in January, as well as anyone who appreciates the colour, class and fascinating history the gemstone is renowned for.
 January birthstone baby bangle

What colour do garnets come in?

The word ‘garnet’ has its roots in the 14th century Middle English word ‘gernet’ meaning dark red - something of a misnomer considering the gemstone can be found in just about every colour imaginable, including pink, purple, green, yellow, orange, black and more. Even so, red variants of the gemstone remain the most popular, and garnet jewellery is a perennial favourite both here in New Zealand and abroad.

A quick history lesson on garnets

Etymological ambiguities aside, for thousands of years garnets have played an important role in civilisations around the world. Unearthed artifacts indicate that ancient Egyptians incorporated garnets into their jewellery as far back as 5,000 years ago, while more recent history tells us that early Polish, Italian, Russian, Arabic and Hindu cultures believed the gemstone to hold protective powers for those born in the month of January.
A few centuries later, garnets were being incorporated into signet rings in ancient Rome, and had become the gemstone of choice among discerning aristocrats during the Middle Ages. Thanks to the widespread prosperity of the Victorian era, garnet jewellery grew to even greater prominence in the 1800s and early 1900s, and now the gemstone has a rightful place in jewellery boxes all around the world.

Do garnets really have protective powers?

What exactly made garnets so appealing to these ancient cultures? The stone is beautiful, of course, but the real enchantment lay in something a little more mystical than mere aesthetics.
As the American Gem Society noted, the garnet’s protective qualities were so revered that warriors used to wear the gemstone into battle in the hopes it would safeguard them from injury. The gemstone was also thought to carry strong healing properties, a belief that saw ancient healers and shamans inserting garnets into open wounds. Whether or not this actually helped patients is another story…
Regardless, the tale of garnets is an undeniably endearing one, and as a result jewellery featuring the gemstone always holds a certain significance - no matter if you’re gifting a garnet baby bangle to that special January newborn, or looking to cure the post-holiday blues with a present to yourself!