Garnets owe their name to their red variation's similarity to a popular fruit: the word comes from a Middle English word meaning "dark red" and is derived from a Latin word meaning "grain" or "seed." This is believed to be a reference to the seed covers of the pomegranate. They range in color from dark red -- the color the stone is best known for -- to nearly clear, including many colors along the spectrum.
Garnet is a relatively well-known gemstone, but the term actually describes a group of similar minerals that share physical properties and crystal forms, while differing in chemical composition. The types include pyrope, almandine, spessartine, grossular, uvarovite and andradite. Usually found embedded in metamorphic, igneous and sedimentary rocks, garnets are pretty common because they are easy to mine.
One thing all garnets share is relative hardness, a factor that explains why some of the hardest garnets have been used as abrasives. When crushed, it breaks into angular shapes whose sharp edges are useful for industrial use. Surprisingly, most of the use of crushed garnet is in waterjet cutting of metal, ceramic or stone. Another industrial use is as a filter media in filtration systems.
Because some garnets are created in volcanic eruptions deep below the Earth's mantle -- as are diamonds -- garnets are sometimes considered "indicator minerals" that lead geologists and mining companies to diamond finds. It's rare that the same gemstone can be plentiful, useful and beautiful, but garnets are an example of just that. We sell the beautiful ones!
- Another variety that has become well-known as a gemstone is Rhodolite, a light rose or purplish garnet.
- Thought to bestow upon the wearer eternal happiness, health and wealth.
- Red Almandine is the red garnet most often found in jewelry.