What is the birthstone for January? As a matter of fact, the right question would be, what are the birthstones for January? There are all in all four birthstones of January, the first month of the year. What are the different January birthstones? Here we list the 4 types of January birthstone.
- Modern: Garnet
- Traditional: Garnet
- Ancient Italian & Russian: Garnet & Red zircon
- Tibetan: Emerald
- Indian: Serpent stone
By her who in this month is born
No gem save garnets should be worn;
They will ensure her constancy,
True friendship, and fidelity.
— Gregorian birthstone poem
Garnet is the most widely accepted birthstone for January. Garnet is the traditional as well as the modern January birthstone. Garnet was also consistently designated as the gemstone for January in the ancient Roman, Italian, Polish, Russian, Hebrew, Arabic and old Hindu (Ayurvedic) calendars. Before the gemstone was made the birthstone of January, garnet was the zodiac stone for Capricorn and Aquarius, both falling partly on the month of January.
Garnet is a valuable gemstone cherished since antiquity. While most expensive in its green variety called demantoid, garnet is most commonly a red gemstone. Accordingly the color of garnet regarded as stone for January is the red garnet, which comes from several garnet species, namely, almandine, pyrope, spessartine, andradite and grossular. This January gemstone is believed to bestow strength and protection. The January stone is also regarded as a symbol of friendship, exchanged between friends to express affection, and in the hope that they would meet again in the future.
Zircon is a transparent gemstone that makes excellent substitute to diamond. While most popular in its blue color, zircon also occurs in red, in which case the gemstone is called hyacinth, or jacinth. This red zircon is the birthstone for January in the ancient Italian and Russian calendar. While hyacinth is the red variety of zircon, this January birthstone may also hold traces of yellow. The January stone is believed to enhance peace of mind, as well as bring prosperity.
Emerald is the birthstone for January in the old Tibetan calendar. This January birthstone is the green variety of beryl, and is, not only one of the most expensive gemstones in the world, but is also among the only four gemstones regarded as precious stones in the modern day. This birthstone of January is prized mostly for its color, the verdant green. When beryl occurs in a color beside green, the gemstone would be called by a different name — aquamarine when blue, for instance, and heliodor when yellow — and the stone would be accordingly less expensive. The January gemstone, emerald, is believed to bring well-being, as well as stimulate clairvoyance.
Serpent stone is the birthstone for January in the Hindu calendar. The identity of this January birthstone is rather dubious. Some say that the name serpent stone refers to ruby, which would make sense; since ruby is the birthstone for Capricorn — which falls partly on the month of January — and is a gemstone that is red in color, similar to the other birthstones for January, namely, garnet and red zircon. Others, however, insists that serpent stone is just that, serpent stone, better known as black stone or snake stone. This January stone consists of black animal bones believed to heal snake bites.
January Birthstone Color
What color is January birthstone? Given the limited choices of birthstones for January, and how they are definitively described by color, January birthstone color is undoubtedly red, specifically deep red. Garnet, the foremost birthstone for January, occurs most commonly as red stones, and is widely thought of as red since ancient times. The next January gemstone, hyacinth, is also a red gemstone. Indeed, there is no doubt that the primary birthstone color of January is red.
If a secondary color of January birthstone has to be named, that would be green. Emerald, the birthstone of January in the old Tibetan calendar, is green. The foremost January gemstone, garnet, likewise occurs in green, and is in fact most valuable in its green variety called demantoid. Serpent stone is in itself an uncertain gemstone; hence, using the birthstone for January in the Hindu calendar to determine the January stone color would present more questions than answers.
Featured image credit: Cut red garnet by Humanfeather / Michelle Jo via Wikimedia Commons
After extensive research on birthstones, I found that one of the red January birthstones was not in fact red, but blue. I also discovered that another January stone was never actually prescribed for jewelry, but for a phallic symbol.
You can read about these discoveries, as well as the magical powers of all birthstones, in my book Power Birthstone.