January – garnet
The garnet family of gemstones ranges in colour from fiery red to vivid green and there are six varieties:
The pyrope garnet with its fiery red colour and the almandine with a hint of violet were very fashionable in the 18th and 19th centuries. Spessartine garnet varies from brilliant orange to brown and the name drives from the town in Germany where the stone was originally found. Hessonite or Grossular garnet – the name comes from the Latin for ‘gooseberry’ that describes the distinctive colour of some stones – are either green or orange-brown. Uvarovite, named after a Russian statesman, is vivid green – a fragile crystal that is found in the Urals in Russia. Demantoid garnet, the rarest and most valuable of this family of gemstones, is only found in the Urals and its brilliant fiery green colour is the distinctive feature.
Red stones, the colour of blood were traditionally worn as protection against haemorrages and inflammatory diseases and also had a calming effect on anger. If a lion was carved into the garnet, then the gemstone would also protect honour as well as health. In 1892, the Hanzas tribe from Kashmir used garnets as bullets as they were believed to inflict a more deadly wound.
Red and green garnets: Photography by Paul Hartley, Hartley Studios: www.hartleystudios.com