Happy Birthday, January babies!

Happy Birthday to those born in the month of January! If you’re wondering if this a re-post from last year’s one and *ahem* only, it is (more or less); however, I’m adding in some things that weren’t included in last year’s post. So please visit this page each week and read on over the remainder of the month! My goal is to give you enough history, lore, care and chemistry knowledge about your special gemstone to wow people at your next cocktail party – not to mention that you’ll be a straight-up smarty pants!:

For you who are born in the month of January, yours is the birthstone of garnet, a gem that draped the necks of the pharaohs of Egypt and was entombed with their mummified corpses.  In ancient Rome, signet rings were set with carved garnets that were used to stamp the wax that secured important documents.  During the middle-ages, Garnets were considered cures against depression and protection against bad dreams. It’s also said that the Greek philosopher Plato had his portrait engraved into a Garnet by a Roman engraver!

Garnet is a group that shares the same crystal structure (think “family”).  However, the slightest diversity in their compositions (individuals within the family) will create a variety of colors; for example, Almandine Garnet (which will be talked about in this post) and Spessartite Garnet both share aluminum silicate as 2 parts of their chemical structure, but what separates them is their 3rd element; the iron in Almandine gives it colors that range from brownish red to blackish red, whereas Spessartite’s 3rd element of manganese delivers its (yummy) orange color.

When thinking about garnets, the color most people are familiar with is red, but as you can see from photo #1 (above) Garnets come in a fabulous color assortment, so…. if red garnets aren’t your thing, I’m certain you can find the color that suits your fancy! Not all colors will be discussed in over these 3 weeks, but I will cover as much as I can! As the different Garnets are discussed, I will post photos of the gems in their rough and faceted states *happy sigh!*, so you know how your birthstone looks both ways! You never know, you may start to fall in love with gems in their rough state! Just for fun, I will also include the gems in a jewelry setting…you’re welcome 😉

First up, is Almandine garnet, whose name is derived from the ancient Carian city of Alabanda (modern Doğanyur) in Turkey.  almandine-garnet-03102012-2-1


While there is a vast amount of this gemstone that is mined, only a small percentage is considered gemstone quality.  Like the red coloring of Pyrope, its differences are that it’s a bit heavier and darker; with its coloring ranging from brownish red to blackish red as mentioned above.



Almandine’s Gemological properties:

Moh’s scale hardness – 6.5-7.5

Toughness – Fair to good, they are durable for all styles of jewelry, but should not be subjected to rough wear or hard blows.  (That goes for ALL your jewelry, y’all!)

Cleavage – Indistinct or none (my research turned up both)

Stability – Stable to light exposure; do not steam clean them as extreme heat or extreme temperature fluctuations can cause the gem to fracture.  Exposure to harsh chemicals can cause corrosion.

Care: While you can use an Ultrasonic cleaner, always take caution while doing so.  The best way to clean them is with a soft cloth or soft brush (if needed) with warm water and a mild soap.  Rinse thoroughly with room-temperature or warm water to make sure all soap is rinsed off.

That’s all for this week, I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you would like my list of references, please don’t hesitate to ask!  Feel free to comment and ask questions and I will reply as quickly as I can!  Thanks for taking time out of your day to read this and I’ll see you next week, have a great weekend!



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