Garnets are are actually a family of gemstones that sharea a similar structure. The vaious member of the garnet family have very widely different chemical compositions, and it is these varying compositions that are responsible for a garnet's color. The most common and familiar are the reddish brown, or purplish red garnet varieties. However, garnet can be found in almost any color imaginable.

Various Members of the Garnet Family:

Garnet gets its name from the Latin word for seed or grain, Granatus. Garnet's name shares its origin with the word pomegranate not only due to its resemblance in color to pomegranate seeds. Small garnet crystals are commonly found in clusters within larger rocks, exactly like the numerous seeds that fill a pomegranate fruit.

Garnet is believed to be a calming stone with healing properties especially for those with problems of the heart. Worn at night it has been believed to ease sleep and prevent nightmares.

The origin of the tradition of birthstones is sometimes attributed to the Breastplate of Aaron, the high priest of Hebrews. The breastplate of the high priest was a ceremonial garment set with 12 gemstones, each stone representing one of the twelve tribes of Israel. The twelve gems corresponded to the twelve months of the year, and the twelve signs of the zodiac.

Garnet is the modern birthstone for January.

Garnet has a Mohs scale hardness rating of 6.5-7.5.