Garnet is a collective term for a diverse group of rock-forming minerals that share a similar crystal structure and a chemical composition of X3Y2(SiO4)3. The most common of these garnet species is Almandine Garnet (also known as Almandite). Although it can occur in different colours, this gemstone is often associated with dark red and reddish brown colours.
Almandine Garnet is a staple jewelry stone due to its affordability and durability. It is typically used in rings, earrings, bracelets and pendants. Almandine Garnet is also used for industrial purposes, such as waterjet cutting, water filtration, and sandblasting.
The Physical Properties of Almandine Garnet
Almandine is the hardest type of garnet, with a Mohs hardness of 7.5 to 8.5. A cut Almandine Gemstone has a hollow in its underside to allow the entry of light, giving the stone a lighter appearance.
Like other garnet varieties, Almandine Stone is translucent and has a vitreous or glass-like luster. It can occur in different shapes: as an individual crystal, granular aggregate, or stream-worn pebble. Almandine can also show wine red, purplish red, and purple colours.
Almandine Garnet is formed at convergent plate boundaries through regional metamorphism, a process where rock minerals and texture are changed by heat and pressure over a wide area. During metamorphism, the heat and pressure break chemical bonds and recrystallize minerals into structures. From tiny grains, the Garnet enlarges over time as metamorphism progresses.
The History of Almandine Garnet
The stone got its name after the city of Alabanda in Asia Minor (Turkey) which was then known as a Garnet cutting and trade center, according to the Roman author and philosopher Pliny the Elder.
Garnet comes from the Latin word granatus meaning seed-like, alluding to a pomegranate considering that small Garnet stones look similar to the red seeds in a pomegranate. Traditionally, Garnet (together with Rubies and Spinels) was classified as a carbuncle or any blood-red, cabochon-cut gems.
Almandine is the oldest Garnet known to man. Ancient Egyptians used Almandine in jewelry as early as 3,500 BCE. Archaeologists discovered Garnet necklaces and talismans from Egyptian tombs and mummies. Both Ancient Greeks and Romans used Garnet, along with other jewelry pieces, as signet rings to seal essential documents.
Almandine can be found in different parts of the world. However, its gem forms are less prevalent. It can be found in countries like Australia, Brazil, China, Madagascar, India, Sri Lanka, and the U.S.
The Lore of Almandine Garnet
There have been several legends and ancient traditions surrounding Garnet stones. In medieval times, the stones were believed to treat depression, ward off bad dreams, and cure liver diseases.
The prophet Noah used finely cut Garnet to light up the ark during the great flood. Hebrew writers claim that Garnet was one of the gems in Aaron the Jewish high priest's breastplate. Christian tradition considered the stone as a symbol of Jesus Christ's sacrifice. And the Greeks believed that it protected children from drowning.
Today, Garnet is seen as a gift of love and is usually gifted to couples celebrating their second, sixth, or nineteenth marriage anniversary. The stone is also symbolic of a speedy return and separated love. This is why Garnet may be gifted to a lover who's about to go on a trip, believing that it will repair the broken bond between lovers.
The Metaphysical Properties of Almandine Garnet
Almandine Garnet is believed to have a regenerative healing property that may restore strength and stamina. Holding the stone can energize the crown and root chakra. It is also said that Almandine stones allow a person to access their personal truths and live them out.
As it energizes the chakras, the stone elicits inner growth and development, facilitates release from unhealthy inhibitions, and boosts confidence. People use Almandine stones to protect their emotional and physical wellbeing.
Note: There is no scientific evidence that supports the effectiveness of mineral stones and crystals in treating ailments. Scientists attribute the healing impact to the placebo effect that takes place when using stones and crystals. Holding stones and meditating with them is said to trigger the release of feel-good hormones (endorphins and dopamine) in the brain.
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