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January - Garnet

The Details:
The name "garnet" derives from the Latin for "grain" because of its rounded crystals. And the term refers to a "group" of a half-dozen different "species" that all have essentially the same crystal structure. But their chemical composition may differ, resulting in different "series" within the group. There are six species of common garnets based on ideal end-member chemical compositions. These six species are divided into two groups; the pyralspite group which are the pure chemical end-members Fe3Al2(SiO4)3 (almandine), Mg3Al2(SiO4)3 (pyrope) and Mn3Al2(SiO4)3 (Spessartine), and the ugrandite group or calcium garnet group consisting of Ca3Fe2(SiO4)3 (andradite), Ca3Al2(SiO4)3 (grossular), and Ca3Cr2(SiO4)3 (uvarovite). Garnet is allochromatic, meaning that most of the color variations in different garnets are due to their highly variable trace element impurities rather than to their bulk composition elements. The color we see in garnets is produced when light is selectively absorbed by these ions or by interactions between these ions (intervalent charge transfers)

The Structure:
Garnet is a silicate mineral that has a vitreous (glassy) luster. All minerals are classified into six different crystal systems based on the shapes of their smallest unit cells. They are isometric (also called cubic), tretragonal, orthorhombic, monoclonic, triclinic, and hexagonal. Garnets are the first of these, i.e., isometric. Such crystals are cube shaped and tend to have equal dimensions. They have three crystallographic axes of equal length, each perpendicular to the other two. They have no cleavage but display a conchoidal fracture, so are somewhat brittle and tend to chip easily. Yet garnet jewelry will give many years of wearing pleasure if cared for properly.

The Lore:
Red Garnets are sidewinder missiles? A far cry from use as jewelry, but some Asiatic tribes and some North American Indians used them as bullets believing the would seek blood and inflict deadlier wounds. But on the flip side of the coin, ancient apothecaries ground garnets into powder and used them as a poultice -- red for fever; yellow for jaundice. They were also thought to stop bleeding, cure inflammatory diseases, and settle the nerves. But for some, if the garnet lost its luster, that was a signal of impending doom. For Christians, the red garnet symbolizes Christ's blood. For Islamics, garnets illuminate the fourth heaven. Garnets trace its roots as a gemstone to the Nile Delta in 3100 B.C., where Egyptian artisans would craft garnets into beads or inlay garnet into hand-wrought jewelry. In more modern times, garnet is the birthstone for January. Garnet may be given as a gem on the 2nd and 6th wedding anniversary.

The Myths:
Legend has it, that Noah suspended a finely cut, glowing garnet to illuminate the ark. In medieval times garnets were thought to cure depression, protect against bad dreams and relieve diseases of the liver and hemorrhages. The Amazon women were said to been empowered by the garnets they wore on their breastplates. They were popular for jewelry in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was a mark of distinction to use slices of garnet in the windows of churches and temples. Garnets is the stone of new beginnings, especially because it is the birthstone of January. Garnet is given and received as a symbol of consistency, perseverance, and good health. It is a power stone, and, according to legend, it guides its wearer when he's traveling at night. This is a stone of commitment and fidelity, especially for women (this is one of the reasons it was so popular in jewelry). Wearing the red garnets, because they are the color of blood, promotes good circulation, especially in the lower half of the body. Thus, they are also good for fertility. They help promote passion between lovers. Wearing the green garnets promotes great vitality and growth as well as attracting abundance.

Mohs Hardness 6.0 to 7.5

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