The name for January's birthstone, garnet, comes from “granatum,” the Greek word meaning “pomegranate seed.” This name is appropriate because of the garnet's rich red color, resembling closely the pomegranate seed. However, this is only one kind of garnet, almadine, discovered thousands of years ago in Asia Minor. Garnet actually occurs in a variety of colors and a variety of places.
A similarly colored garnet, appearing in reds and pinks, is Pyrope, meaning “fire-eyed.” A violet-red version of Pyrope is mined out of North Carolina. Grossular garnet occurs in shades of red and orange. Unlike those three, spessarite appears in greens and browns, and andradite appears in browns and black. Uvarovite is the rarest garnet. It occurs as green and is found in relatively small quantities in the mountains of Finland and Russia.
No matter what color or kind, garnet has always been revered for its positive associations with friendships. It was traditional in the Middle Ages for one friend to give the other garnet pendants or garnet rings if the two ever had to permanently part ways. Today, garnet jewelry is exchanged between good friends, whether parting or not, to celebrate and enhance already strong bonds of friendship.