Although the origin of the birthstone goes back thousands of years and is shrouded in mystery, birthstones are thought to originate from the stones set into the breastplate of Aaron, the high priest at the time of Moses, symbolizing the twelve tribes of Israel. And Noah was said to have used a glowing garnet lantern to guide the ark in the dark of night.
While these stories are intriguing, our modern birthstone designations were adopted in 1912 by the American National Association of Jewelers, with the exception of tanzanite, later added to December.
There are many myths and stories about the healing power of birthstones. For example, a birthstone’s healing power is amplified for those born in the month matched with the birthstone and is strongest in the actual calendar month corresponding to the stone.
Regardless of your belief in the healing power of birthstones, there is something undeniably beguiling about wearing a piece of beautiful gemstone jewelry, especially when that stone is associated with the month of your birth. Although each birthstone is exceptional, the garnet, January’s birthstone, is universally admired, not only for its exceptional beauty, but also for its many practical uses.
Most people think of a red gemstone when they see the word garnet, but garnet is actually found in many vibrant colors, including green, orange and pink. Garnet’s industrial uses are many and include applications in industrial cutting, abrading and filtration.
While all of the various colors of garnet are beautiful, it is the deep red garnet that is most universally cherished as January’s birthstone. After all, the word ‘garnet’ comes from the Latin word for pomegranate with its red, jewel-like seeds. Long considered a symbol of love and friendship, the red garnet was often exchanged between friends in the hope and expectation they would soon meet again.
In the Irish Celtic tradition, there is a lovely term called Anam Cara, Gaelic for ‘soul friend’ and meant to convey the deep enduring bond that forms between two souls who have come to completely trust each other. There is perhaps no more beautiful expression of this affection than a sterling silver Irish Claddagh ring with a rich, ruby red garnet set as the heart.
Of course, the deep red garnet looks simply stunning in other Claddagh birthstone jewelry settings as well, including pendants and earrings as well as rings. The red garnet not only makes a memorable January birthday gift for a loved one (or even yourself!) but is also perfect to commemorate a couple’s second wedding anniversary or to celebrate a new or enduring friendship.