NH History Matters: January’s Birthstone

January’s birthstone is Garnet. Although not as sought after as the ruby gemstone, garnets are treasured for their protective powers. Even Noah carried a large carbuncle garnet aboard his Ark. Tradition says that when worn as an amulet, the garnet gemstone protects its wearer against poisons, fevers, wounds, bad dreams, and depression.

Garnet in New Hampshire

We usually think of garnets as red in color, but they can appear in a variety of colors, including green. They are formed under the same high temperatures and pressure that created the highly metamorphosed or granitic host rocks in which they are found.

With its reputation as the Granite State, it’s strange that New Hampshire has only one (previously mined) large deposit of garnet, in North Wilmot, north of Lake Sunapee. Still, small quantities have been found in mines throughout the state.

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Origin of Birthstones

HoshenBirthstones are thought to have originated with the 12 gemstones embedded in the magic breastplate of the high priest of the Israelites. The concept was later fused with the 12 signs of the zodiac, which led to the belief that a particular gem protected those born during a particular month. Garnet was one of the twelve.

The National Association of Jewelers created the modern list of birthstones in 1912.

Next month: Amethyst



Brought to you by Cheryl Lassiter and History Matters New Hampshire. nh.historymatters@gmail.com


2 thoughts on “NH History Matters: January’s Birthstone

Add yours

  1. Most informative! Who would have guessed that Noah’s Ark carried a Garnet. I got one in Montana at Virginia City. They are as hot an item as gold in this Western mining town. As always you enhance my knowledge of the world with your, posts, blog and articles. Many Thanks Karen Raynes

  2. Karen – The biblical references to gemstones are fascinating, especially the story of Aaron’s magical breastplate. February’s stone, amethyst, is another of the 12 gemstones and has its own fascinating history.

    Thanks for sharing your garnet story!

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