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While garnet may be viewed as some as a ruby substitute, it has its own unique qualities to be appreciated. Garnet comes in a variety of colors, including many shades of red, from very pale to rosy or purplish, to brick or deep red-black. It can be found in larger cut sizes, and usually has good clarity. Garnet occurs naturally in most other colors except blue (grossularite green garnets are known as tsavorite, spessartite orange garnets are known as mandarin garnets). Silicates of aluminum, iron and magnesium provide the coloring for garnet; the level of iron or magnesium determines the depth and shade.

Like many red stones, garnet was once believed to stop bleeding. It is a symbol of loyalty and energy, promotes sincerity, and was said to have illuminative powers, both physically and spiritually. Garnet was also said to alleviate anger, promote tranquility and offer protection in health and travel.

Garnet is the birthstone of January. It has a Mohs hardness rating of 7, a respectable hardness that allows it to wear well in jewelry.