January Birthstone Garnet is On-Trend in 2015 Color of the Year

contemporary handcrafted garnet bracelet by Seattle jewelry designer Rita Sunderland
Contemporary Handcrafted Garnet Bracelet by Seattle Jewelry Designer Rita Sunderland
Photo Courtesy of RitaSunderland.com

The January birthstone garnet has been deemed precious for thousands of years; it was used in early Egyptian, Greek and Roman jewelry designs. Garnets come in many colors, including green, yellow and orange, but it is wine-red garnet that has always held the most allure. Vast discoveries of dark Bohemian red garnet in Central Europe around 1500 led to intensive mining and manufacturing, and red garnets reached their height of popularity in the late 1800s. Today, ornate Victorian garnet jewelry is considered highly collectible. In fact, red garnet jewelry — old and new — is more sought after than ever, especially since the Pantone Color Institute announced its 2015 Color of the Year – Marsala.

Victorian Bohemian garnet flower bracelet
Victorian Bohemian Garnet Flower Bracelet
Photo courtesy of AntiquingOnline.com
garnet-and-citrine-earrings
These January Birthstone Garnet and Citrine Drop Earrings in 14K Gold are right on trend. Available at Bloomingdale’s, $1,050.
Victorian garnet earrings
There is something mysteriously appealing about a dark-yet-flashy Victorian garnet heirloom. Look for pieces on vintage jewelry websites and at antique stores or auctions near you. Photo courtesy of AgelessHeirlooms.com

Dreaming of Garnets

According to statesymbolsusa.org, the red garnet was designated the State gem of New York in 1969. Barton Mines in New York’s Adirondack Mountains is the world’s largest garnet mine, unearthing mostly industrial-grade garnet used for polishing glass and metal. However, the website reports that gemstone-quality garnet is still found occasionally in upstate N.Y. — and I, for one, am glad to hear it.

As a child, I spent every summer on Blue Mountain Lake in the Adirondack Park, and I often found sparkling red garnets on the gravel path that led from our camp to the water. It is one of my earliest and most enduring “jewelry memories,” although my shoebox-full of the precious wine-red nuggets has long since vanished. – S.M.

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