Garnets: A Glimpse into the World of January's Vibrant Birthstone

With their rich history and kaleidoscopic range of beautiful colours, garnets - the birthstone of January - have captivated gem lovers for centuries. Renowned for their exceptional brilliance and durability, garnets have adorned the crowns of kings and queens, becoming a symbol of passion, energy and vitality. Extremely popular in the Victorian era, Sophie seeks out the most vibrant garnets to use in her designs, particularly orange and green garnets in a wide spectrum of shades.


The Garnet Family

Dating back to ancient civilisations, garnets have a long and storied history. Found in ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman cultures, they have been used in jewellery and decorative arts for centuries. The name “garnet” is derived from the medieval Latin word “granatum”, meaning pomegranate, which the deep red garnet variety resembles.

A diverse group of silicate minerals, red garnets are the most well-known and widely appreciated. However, the garnet family has one of the widest colour ranges in the gemstone kingdom. This diversity is a result of variations in chemical composition and trace elements present during their formation.


Garnet Properties & Symbolism

In many cultures, garnets are considered a symbol of love and passion. This makes them a popular choice for engagement rings and romantic jewellery, with deep-red garnets, in particular, often associated with matters of the heart. Throughout history, they have been associated with protection and in centuries past were believed to have the power to ward off evil. 

Garnets originate from many different regions and countries, with Africa the source of many of the world’s garnets. Known for their remarkable brilliance and durability, garnets possess a hardness ranging from 6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale, making them very suitable for regular wear.

A World of Colour

There are many different types of garnet, each with its own unique properties and characteristics. A favourite of Sophie’s, the spessartine garnet displays a beautiful orange hue that ranges from peachy orange to deep red-orange.  

Among the family of garnets, another stands out for its vivid green hues and unparalleled beauty – the tsavorite. Characterised by its stunning green colour, ranging from serene mint green to deep forest green, the tsavorite is Sophie’s preferred garnet to work with. 

Tsavorites were first discovered in the 1960s by Scottish gemologist Campbell R. Bridges, who named them after the Tsavo National Park in Kenya. They owe their mesmerising green hues to the presence of chromium and vanadium, which are responsible for the gem’s intense colour saturation. The combination of a vivid green shade and a high refractive index gives tsavorites a captivating sparkle, making them highly sought after.

In 2022, Sophie visited the source of the tsavorites she uses in her One-Of-A-Kind rings: an artisanal mine in the heart of the Kenyan bush. Discover more about her Mine to Mount project here.  

If you’re shopping for a jewel set with January’s birthstone, we have a range of pieces that celebrate the garnet’s incredible diversity. A meaningful jewel she will wear every day, the SB Birthstone Disc pendant is set with a green tsavorite garnet, while our Spessartite Garnet pendant is a beautiful addition to her wardrobe of Modular jewellery. Or explore our One-Of-A-Kind rings, showcasing a series of boldly colourful tsavorite garnets, sourced and hand-picked by Sophie during her trip to Kenya.


The Modern-Day Family Jeweller

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