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Birthstones: Myth and History

January - Month of Garnet

Chemistry: Ca3Al2 (SiO4)3, calcium aluminum silicate
Subclass: Nesosilicates


Class:Silicates
Group: Garnets

History of garnet
There are many different myths about the origins of garnet. One such myth suggests that the garnet originated with Persephone, the Greek goddess of sunshine. Persephone was captured by Hades, the god of the underworld. Before Hades released Persephone, he wanted to guarantee her return, so he gave her some pomegranate seeds. The word garnet comes from the Latin "granatus," which means seed. The next time you eat a pomegranate, you will notice the seeds' resemblance to garnet.

Science of garnet
Garnet is actually a group of six different stones: grossular (red to orange colors), almandine (red), pyrope (red and pink), spessartite (green-brown), andradite (brown to black), and uvarovite (emerald green). Garnets can be found in metamorphic rocks and sometimes in granites and volcanic rocks. These special minerals form deep underground, enduring extreme temperatures and pressures. For this reason, geologists may use garnets to study the temperature and pressure of the surrounding rock. Garnets belong to the isometric crystal class, which produces symmetrical, cube-based crystals. 

 

An alternate birthstone for January is clear rose-quartz. Quartz in a very hard, durable, and transparent mineral and is the most abundant semi-precious stone.

Garnet as a cut and polished gemstone.
Garnet as a cut and polished gemstone.
Photo by Ron Eng
A garnet in its naturally occuring state.
A garnet in its naturally occuring state.
Photo by Ron Eng
Rose quartz is an alternate birthstone for January.
Rose quartz is an alternate birthstone for January.
Photo by Ron Eng