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Garnet is a January gemstone. The name "garnet" comes from the Latin GRANATUS (grain), possibly a reference to the Punica GRANATUM (pomegranate), a plant with red seeds similar in shape, size, and color to some garnet crystals.
Six common species (but altogether, more than ten different gemstones!) of garnet are recognized based on their chemical composition, they make up two solid solution groups: Pyralspite garnets (almandine, pyrope, spessartine) and Ugrandite garnets (andradite, grossular, and uvarovite). Garnets species are found in many colors including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, black, pink and colorless. The most common variety of garnet is pyrope and talking about garnet we usually mean pomegranate-seeds-like red to dark-red and purple-red crystals of pyrop.
Throughout time, there have been many ancient traditions and legends about the garnet. In Greek mythology, a pomegranate is referenced as a gift of love and is associated with eternity. Nowadays, garnet remains as a gift of love and is traditionally given for the 19th anniversary of marriage. It may also be used as a gift for two-year and six-year anniversaries. Moreover, garnet is symbolic of a quick return and separated love. The most notable reference in Greek mythology where garnet is thought to be symbolized by a pomegranate, involves Hades and Persephone.
It is as follows: after Hades had abducted Persephone and taken her down into the underworld, Zeus, on the behalf of Demeter, commanded him to release her. Zeus sent Hermes to ensure the safety of Persephone's passage. Hermes found Persephone seated next to Hades. Upon the sight of Hermes, Persephone was elated to be released from underworld. Hades knew he must head the command of his brother and had no choice but to let her go. Hades was eager to ensure her return.
Before leaving, Hades gave, as a gift to Persephone, a pomegranate. She willingly accepted it and Hades knew that once she experienced the sweetness of the ripened seeds that she would return to him. In fact Persephone did return to Hades for three months of every year forever. Persephone's return caused the winter to arrive for the three month for which she remained with Hades.
Garnet has been used by various Indian tribes to enhance the potency of fire and to heal and enlighten their people. Among these tribal groups are Mayans, Aztecs, certain African tribes, Native American and South American Indians. It has also been said that garnet has been ground up into a soft silky mass and heated to act as a medicinal remedy for fever (even yellow and other dangerous forms of fever).
In medieval times, the stones were thought to cure depression, protect against bad dreams, and relieve diseases of the liver, as well as hemorrhages. According to legend, Noah used a finely cut, glowing garnet to illuminate the ark during those dark wet days and nights. Hebrew writers include the garnet as one of the twelve gems in Aaron's breastplate. Christian tradition considered the blood-red garnet as a symbol of Christ's sacrifice. The Koran holds that the garnet illuminates the Fourth Heaven of the Muslims. The Greeks said it guarded children from drowning. It was also thought to be potent against poisons.