Named after the Greek word granatum, or seed, garnet is typically found as a deep red color that resembles the small seeds of a pomegranate, but can also exhibit the full spectrum of colors. Blue garnet, another color-shifting gem, shifts from blue green in daylight to purple under incandescent lighting thanks to the presence of vanadium. Several other varieties of garnet also share this color-shifting characteristic.
Garnet is the birthstone of January, and its strong, hearty composition has made it a favorite material of today’s jewelers. For much of its history, red garnet was the staple variety of this group of gemstones, but recent finds in Africa and elsewhere have exposed the gemological community to many different colors and varieties.
Garnet has been popular in many cultures for thousands of years, and was even said to have been used by Noah as a lantern to navigate the ark through the waters at night. With ancient connections to the planets Mars, Mercury, and Pluto, garnet was rumored to have healing properties as well as the ability to protect its wearer from evil.