January - the traditional birthstone is the Garnet
Garnets come in many different shapes and colors and have uses beyond that of gemstones.
Possibly the most versatile gemstone in the world, the garnet and its use can be traced back to Bronze-Age antiquity when it was primarily used as an abrasive. Even today industrial garnet production (used as a coating for sandpaper and to cut steel in water jets) is fifty times greater than the production of gemstone garnets.
Garnet deposits are found in Alaska, California, Arizona, Colorado, Montana and Idaho. As a child living in Bishop, CA, I often found garnet nuggets around Lake Crawley.
Garnet is also used as an indicator for determining the stages of rock formation. It is used in the process of defining the metamorphic stages of rocks and also to detect the formation of igneous rocks.
The pure crystals are used in gemstone jewelry. There are several different types of garnets, not all of them red. Some varieties may be pink to purple to brownish red, others may be green or even gold. Recently a blue garnet was discovered in Madagascar.
The most common type of garnets--and probably the most affordable--are Almandine and Pyrope. Rhodolite is also a popular type and is usually mined in India, Africa, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, while Tsavorite (a Grossular type) garnets are found in Kenya and Tanzania. Other types include Spessartine, Andradite and Uvarovite. Most garnets are varieties of aluminum silicates with a Mohs hardness of 6.5 to 7.5.
The name "garnet" comes from the Greek word “granatum” which means pomegranate, a reference to the stone's similarity in color and form to a pomegranate seed.
Grossular Garnet, often referred to as African green garnet, is an excellent natural grounder--a tool for bringing one's vision into reality. It is also considered a potent prosperity stone with healing on health and wealth issues. Their element is earth.
Spessartine Garnet, a manganese aluminum silicate with earth and fire elements, is a powerful stone of attraction. The characteristic color is yellowish orange. Spessartine garnet (named for its discovery in Spessart, Germany) is said to enhance creativity and sexuality while working also on the solar plexux to lend power to one's will.
Rhodolite Garnet is a variety of the Pyrope garnet, a magnesium aluminum silicate. Its element is earth and it is used for emotional healing, self-worth and walking the spiritual path.
Almandine Garnet is an iron aluminum silicate with an earth element. It is an ancient stone more intimately connected to the earth and has powers of strength and security, good for those needing to be more grounded.
Black Andradite Garnet, another earth element stone, has a Mohs hardness of 6.5 to 7.5. It is a calcium iron silicate material with a glossy black color, and is another grounding stone used also for protection and knowledge.
Last is the deep green Uvarovite Garnet found in Russia, Finland, Poland, India and the US. It is a calcium chromium silicate with an earth element and is useful in overcoming poverty consciousness and manifesting abundance, and healing the feeling of insufficiency in all aspects.
Regardless of what color garnet one prefers, garnets are stunningly beautiful. People born in January--myself included--are very lucky to have garnet as their gemstone.