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Garnet: a Many Colored Gemstone

January 31, 2019

Garnet is the accepted birthstone for the month of January. It is also the accepted anniversary gemstone for the second year of marriage. When most people think of garnet, they picture the dark red bohemian garnet that was popular in Victorian times. You may be surprised to learn that garnets are found in every color except blue, including brilliant green tsavorite garnet, raspberry pink rhodolite garnet, and orange malaya garnet. Bright red "anthill" garnets are found in Arizona. The Tsars of Russia favored rare green damantoid garnets. Garnets offer enough variety in appearance to suit every taste, as well as an outstanding price range to suit every pocketbook. Legend holds that Noah hung a large garnet in the ark for illumination. It reportedly also gives its wearer guidance in the night, protection from nightmares, and according to the Egyptians, is an antidote for snake bites and food poisoning. It was also thought to have a special affinity with the blood. Garnets are durable and brilliant and will give years of pleasure. As with all gemstones, care should be taken to protect it from scratches, sharp blows, and extreme tempera-ture changes. Garnets are found in the U.S., Africa, Sri Lanka, Brazil and India.

 

Many of the names of the various stones of the garnet family evolve from Geek nomenclature (litho-meaning stone in all of the gems ending in -lite, such as Rhodolite). This isn't the only relationship that Ancient Greece has had with relationship with garnet. The pomegranate, in very close relationship and symbol of garnet, is referenced in Greek myth. These references have given garnet some of it's legendary characteristics. The most notable reference where garnet is thought to be symbolized by a pomegranate, involves Hades and Persephone. It is as follows: After Hades had abducted Persephone and taken her down into the underworld, Zeus on the behalf of Demeter, commanded him to release her. Zeus sent Hermes to ensure the safety of Persephone's passage. Hermes found Persephone seated next to Hades. Upon the sight of Hermes, Persephone was elated to be released from underworld. Hades knew he must head the command of his brother and had no choice but to let her go. Hades was eager to ensure her return. Before leaving, Hades gave, as a gift to Persephone, a pomegranate. She willingly accepted it and Hades knew that once she experienced the sweetness of the ripened seeds that she would return to him. In fact Persephone did return to Hades for three months of every year forever. Persephone's return caused the winter to arrive for the three month for which she remained with Hades. The pomegranate (and garnet) is associated with eternity in many Greek Myths. Many have associated the gift of the pomegranate seeds with the gift of fine garnet gems. Its meaning has given symbolism to garnet as a gift of love's attraction, a gift of quick return or as a gift of estranged love. This myth gave partial rise to the belief that garnet is a stone for loved ones who travel and a crystal that can heal the broken bonds between lovers.

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