Garnet - January Birthstone

Garnet - January Birthstone
I am Garnet, the talisman of warriors. Soldiers have placed their destiny in my hands. They trusted me to bring swift victories and tranquility after battle. Give me to loved ones and I will bestow them with loyalty and affection.

January is fortunate to have garnet as its birthstone. Most garnets are from Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Tanzania, Burma, Russia and the United States but there are other countries with notable deposits .
All garnets fall into six species. The first species is Pyrope, the most widely recognized and common of the species. The name comes from the Greek work for fiery. It has brownish red tones and is sometimes referred to as a Madagascar Garnet. The next species is Almandite which is red with a violet tint and can be confused with ruby and spinel. Rhodolite Garnet is between Pyrope and Almandite in composition and has a wonderful purplish-rose color.

The third in the garnet group is Spessartite which is orange to red-brown. The best specimens come from Namibia. Forth in the species chain is Grossularite has been found in Canada, Kenya and Russia. It is colorless, green, yellow and brown. The green form of Grossularite is known as Tsavorite. What makes Tsavorite so popular is its wonderful brilliance and radiant color. Most would think it is a green diamond or very clean emerald.

Andradite is the fifth species. It is green, black, brown and yellow-brown. The black garnets, Melanite, are easily confused with black glass and are used in some cultures for mourning jewelry. Topazolite, a topaz-like (therefore the name) variety is found in all shades of yellow. The most valuable garnet to be found is Demantoid. As its name implies it has a diamond-like luster. It is easily mistaken for emerald, tourmaline and its cousin, tsavorite.

The final species is Uvarovite. Because of its green color it may be confused with other green gemstones but this variety is rarely usable in jewelry. As I say every month, with proper care and maintenance garnets will give you years of joy. Please do not wear garnets while gardening, doing housework and physical activities. Abrasive cleaners and household chemicals can damage garnets and any other fine gemstone.

Next month we will discuss Amethyst, the birthstone of February.

Your question of the month is: Why are some people allergic to gold jewelry?
No one is allergic to pure gold, however almost all gold is alloyed to use in jewelry. An alloy is a mixture of metals such as copper, nickel and silver, used to strengthen gold for durability. Unfortunately the same metals used to strengthen gold can also cause allergic reactions. Some of the problems are not allergic reactions but chemical reactions to the alloys. The lower the carat weight the more likely the chance for a reaction of any kind.

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