Happy 2016, jewelry friends!
I don’t know about you, but it seems like I was just getting used to dating my documents with 2015 and suddenly we’re in a new year-whew!
2015 was super busy, exciting and filled with transitions for me. I am, indeed, looking out a new window this year! My family and I have moved our home and my studio to Brunswick, Maine, four hours southwest of our former residence in Robbinston. Well, truthfully, we’re almost finished moving-if you’ve ever moved before you know what a long process it can be…sigh. Even so, we are fairly settled into our sweet little cottage here on Buttermilk Cove and we adore it! My studio is now located on Maine St. in Brunswick at Fort Andross, please come see what I’ve been working on!
Now it’s (already!) mid-January and I’m watching the snowflakes drifting peacefully into the ocean waves of my backyard as I write. And I’m thinking that nothing breaks the chill of a cold winter’s day like a colorful, sparkly gemstone. You know exactly what I’m talking about. Right?! Just a glance down at your frigid fingers reveals the twinkle and shine of your favorite ring(s) and it warms your heart. Jewelry does that to me, anyway. It holds joy, beauty, power, love, and whatever memories connected to the gifting or acquisition of the piece. In short, that’s part of your personal history right there, sparkling away on your finger.
Since it happens to be January right now, my mind is on the deep red beauty of the Garnet, the birthstone of all those lucky enough to be born in this month. Garnet is a curious and mysterious stone associated with passion, fidelity and health. But first, let’s explore the birthstone:
A (Very) Brief History of the Birthstone
The concept of assigning a gem to a month has ancient roots in ancient times. There is biblical mention in Exodus of ‘the Breastplate of Aaron,’ which had 12 gems representing the 12 tribes of Israel, garnet among them. Sometime between the 1st & 5th centuries AD a connection was made between particular gems and the signs of the zodiac and by extension their corresponding months. It was thought the wearer would derive therapeutic or talismanic benefits when adorned with their astrologic gem.
Eastern culture also valued gemstone interpretation. 1000 years ago the Tibetans used a list called Mythical Birthstones, and in Hindu culture birthstone assignment followed the principals of medical practice in the Ayurvedic Birthstone list, c.1500 BC.
One distinctive birthstone custom of note (I’m a fan of this one) originated in 18th century Poland; rather than wearing the gem associated with the month of your birth, this custom dictated the wearing of the birthstone of the month in that month regardless of your birthdate. Thus, it was common to own a set of 12 birthstones to cover the 12 months of the year. I’m all for bringing this custom back, what do you think?!
The list we use today was defined in 1912, with, it could be argued, the less esoteric intent of increasing colored gemstone sales. Though there are some overlaps from the ancient lists and slight differences between contemporary list sources, the modern list of birthstones accepted in North America generally reads like this:
January - Garnet
February - Amethyst
March - Aquamarine
April - Diamond
May - Emerald
June - Pearl, Alexandrite
July - Ruby
August - Peridot
September - Sapphire
November - Topaz, citrine
December - Turquoise, zircon, tanzanite
January's Impassioned Garnet
They say we are all a product of our time and culture. I’m no exception. I’ve been in love with gems since I was a tiny girl and keenly aware of our cultural birthdate/gem associations. For me there will ever be an inseparable bond between garnet and January; January is the color of pomegranate blood and holds the passion, possibility and potential for the months ahead.
Though the stone group called garnet has a range of colors from the vibrant green of a tsavorite garnet to the dramatic magenta of the rhodolite garnet, it is most known as a deep red stone. Its rich color evokes a drama and mystery that has followed it through the ages and continues to fascinate us today. Garnet has been used frequently and symbolically throughout history to many, many intents and purposes and is connected with numerous meanings, benefits and talismanic powers.
I’m always fascinated with the history, symbolism and magic associated with gems so I went on a search of all possible effects, meanings, powers should you choose to wear January’s stone. Here we go:
Virtues of the Garnet:
- True friendship
Garnets Worn for Health Could:
- Purify your blood
- Stimulate your heart and metabolism
- Enhance your bodily strength, endurance and vigor
- Ensure health of the male reproductive system
- Promote feminine hormonal balance
- Aid you in the assimilation of vitamins and minerals
- Cure liver disease, and hemorrhages
- Support your spinal and cellular health
Garnets Worn for Protection May:
- Guard children from drowning
- Protect you from poison
- Guide you in the dark of night
- Protect you from nightmares, demons and snakebites
- Sharpen your perception of self and others
- Warn you of approaching danger
Garnets Worn for Love Might:
- Heal broken bonds between lovers
- Ensure the quick return of a traveling lover
- Inspire contemplation and truthfulness
- Promote attraction to the wearer
- Aid the letting go of self-sabotage, outdated or useless ideas
- Remove inhibitions, anger and taboos
- Balance the passions
- Inspire stability in marriage
Garnets Given as a Gift Could Symbolize:
- Eternal friendship and trust (get one for your bestie)
- Blood bonds
- The 2nd or 19th wedding anniversary
- The feminine life force
Garnets Associated with Religious Tradition:
- A symbol of Christ’s sacrifice
- In Koranic tradition garnet illuminates the Fourth Heaven
- Noah allegedly used a finely cut and glowing garnet to illuminate the ark in its darkest hours
Garnet Fun Facts:
- Formerly known as ‘carbuncle’ referencing the color of a boil or blister (hmmm…)
- In the 13th century garnets were worn to repel insects
ABOVE: The Dark Forest Ring, an heirloom redesign I created from a vintage garnet with champagne diamonds set in 18k gold and dark silver.Wow, it’s a lot to hold this noble gemstone responsible for! Hope you gained something from this post and thank you for reading to the end-this is long one! Stay tuned for more birthstone fun in February!