The Hidden Truth About Garnets (they are actually pretty!)

(A blog by Mari at Secrète Fine Jewelry)

When I was growing up, there were plenty of reasons for me not to like having a January birthday. Birthday parties were often canceled because of snow, the hoopla of Christmas seemed to overshadow the gift-giving occasion, and worst of all, my birthstone, garnet, was the dull brown-red semi-precious garnet. My best friend was a May baby, and in addition to having pool parties for her birthday, she got grassy green emeralds. Another of my friends had September, which gave her the royal-looking sapphire. But I was stuck with boring old garnet. 

Or so I thought.

The truth is the middle-America mall-store version of garnet is like the public-school cafeteria version of Brussel sprouts-- the same substance only by the scientific definition and bad enough to turn you off to the whole thing for years... until that day when you realize you’ve been duped into mistaking the worst version of something for the only version of it.

This is the type of ugly garnet I used to think was my only option as a January baby. The stone looks like a red-brown piece of glass. This type of garnet is typically set in some machine-stamped almost-symmetrical 10k piece of yellow metal. I’m not going to credit this photo because I’m too nice to do that.

That day of revelation came for me during an aptly timed birthday snowstorm marathon of Antiques Roadshow, I discovered there were green garnets, that they were amazing, and that they had a fire (the gemological term for sparkle) that could put diamonds to shame. After I got into the jewelry business, not only did I covet the flashy green demantoids and tsavorites whose saturated green sparkle is like an emerald and a diamond had a baby, I wanted the moody wine-purple rhodolites, and the bright orange spessartines, too. The GIA's gem encyclopedia details all the beautiful qualities garnets can have.


The demantoid garnet and diamond brooch from Antiques Roadshow that changed how I saw garnets. Photo credit- PBS

This is a photo-ode to garnet, the January birthstone by Secrète Fine Jewelry in Bethesda, MD, and Washington, DC.


 Tsavorite and diamond cluster ring in 18k white gold at our DuPont Circle location of Secrète Fine Jewelry.


 Sculptural rhodolite garnet ring with rough diamond accents in 18k yellow gold, another Secrète original.

Dainty engagement ring with pear-shaped rough diamond and two green tsavorite garnets in 14k white gold at the DuPont Secrète. The natural roughness of the center stone contrasts beautifully with the intense sparkle of the garnets.


Rhodolite garnet and diamond earrings in 18k white and yellow gold at Secrète in DC.

 Antique bracelet in the Secrète Fine Jewelry estate collection featuring Mozambique garnets and turquoise in 14k yellow gold. This garnet bracelet dates back to the Victorian era, but something about this seems a little boho-chic-- it’s a little hippie, a little aristocratic.

Looking for a January birthstone gift in the Washington, DC or Maryland area? Contact us today! We can make you the perfect garnet birthday gift for all the Capricorns/Aquarii born in this freezing month. Mention this blog for special discounts!