Garnet, a January birthstone in color of love

Ancient Greek myth of pomegranates, Hades and Persephone gives garnet its name and meaning.

The Garnet Origin Story

Garnet jewelry has been around since ancient times, as a symbol of love and safe returns. This symbolism has a root in an interesting Ancient Greek myth that also explains garnet’s place among the January birthstones:

After the ruler of the underworld Hades fell in love with and abducted the beautiful Persephone, Zeus commanded him to return her. Hades had to let her go, but he gave her a sweet pomegranate whose magic powers would compel her to come back to him. Indeed, she returned, but they agreed it would be only for three months every year. The three months she spends with Hades are said to cause the winter, as her mother Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, mourns being separated from her daughter.

The deep translucent red color of garnet resembles pomegranate seeds, which gave it its name, “granatus” (Latin for pomegranate) and made it a symbol of everlasting love, eternal friendship and trust, as well as the safe journeys.

Garnet Jewelry

I usually choose the red garnet for my jewelry, as I love the intense color and depth it holds, but garnet comes in a variety of colors, from bright to dark wine red and purple, orange and green. Rhodolite that I work with the most has a beautiful purple/red tone that’s a little more subdued and suits all kinds of occasions. The bright-to-deep red garnet Pyrope is another favorite, and the classic in jewelry throughout centuries. I even paired garnet with blue natural sapphire, for a playful Ancient Egyptian themed color palette!

When choosing your red garnet jewelry, note that due to its deep and intense coloring, larger pieces can look almost black, with glints of red in the darkness. That’s why I prefer the smaller or thinner gemstones, to fully display its amazing shades of red and purple. My favorite metal pairing is  gold vermeil for a warm and luxurious overall effect, and my favorite type of jewelry to make with garnet are dainty rosary chains with a garnet drop.

Garnet is one of the stones that are easily mimicked in crystal, so when choosing my gemstones, I prefer the natural look with slight imperfections that proclaim its genuine, natural origin. However, just for fun and because garnet is such a popular color, I do sometimes work with quality wine red crystal rosary chains (always marked as such) for those who want the look at the lower cost point.

A Garnet Factoid

Garnet is so popular, it’s the official state gemstone of four US states – Connecticut, New York, Vermont and Idaho as well as a second wedding anniversary gift!

*All Persephone and Hades images were created by StarryAI, with final work by me in Photoshop.