"By her who in January was born
No gem save garnets shall be worn
They will ensure her constancy
True friendship and fidelity."
~ Harriet Bishop
Garnets are a group of minerals found in many colors including red, orange, yellow, green, purple, brown, blue, black, pink, and colorless, but are most commonly in their deep red shade. The word garnet comes from a 14th‑century Middle English word gernet, meaning 'dark red' which may be derived from a Latin reference to the pomegranate. In medieval times, garnets were thought to provide protection and were worn by warriors in battle and as lucky talismans. In Fife, Scotland, the beach of Ruby Bay is named for the pyrope form of garnets found there, sometimes referred to as "Elie Rubies."
January's birthstone, the garnet, is thought to be named after the seeds of the pomegranate.
The garnet has long been a popular adornment for pharaohs, kings, and nobility, prized for its reputed powers for health and protection. Noah’s ark was even said to have had a garnet lantern to help guide its way.
Because of its blood-red color, garnet was thought to encourage good circulation. And during medieval times, garnets were also believed to lift the spirits and guard against nightmares.
Garnets became especially popular for the masses beginning in the 1500s through the 1800s when a huge deposit was discovered in Bohemia, now a region in the Czech Republic.
The Garnet tartan, designed by Carol A.L. Martin represents the various hues of red garnets which can range from a bright clear red to deeper purple. Garnets, however, can also occur in shades of oranges, greens, and yellows, blue, and even a colorless variety.
For more on the colors and varieties of garnets, click the red garnet above.