2017 is finally, blessedly, almost here—and while just about everyone seems to have something to be excited about, that goes doubly for January babies.
With the month’s arrival comes a new birthstone: garnet. The stone’s name comes from the Middle English word “gernet,” meaning “dark red,” and the Latin word “granatus,” meaning “filled with seeds,” like the similarly-hued pomegranate. Garnets are more common than July’s rubies, and naturally occur in a much wider range of shades, as the name actually encompasses several species of minerals with different chemical compositions but similar physical properties. One such property is relative hardness (6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale), which makes the crystals perfectly suited for use in jewelry.
Ancient Egyptians knew as much, and used garnets in sarcophagi, talismans, and scarab ornaments, many of which have been unearthed from tombs and put on display in museums around the world. In ancient Rome, the stone was carved into signet rings and used to stamp wax seals on important documents. Throughout history, garnets have been considered a protective stone, alleviating depression, warding off illnesses, and keeping warriors safe in battle. Its relation to the pomegranate also connects it to fertility and the feminine life force; it may be given by a long-distance lover to symbolize a speedy return, an echo of the Greek myth of Persephone and the pomegranate seeds.
Below, shop 19 gorgeous garnet earrings, necklaces, rings, and more to wear ASAP—whether or not you have a birthday coming up.