Garnet is the name given to a gemstone that is part of a group of silicate minerals which date back as far as the Bronze Age where they were used as decorative gemstones and abrasives. The different types of garnet have similar physical properties but they have different chemical compositions. It is a very popular gemstone and many garnet pieces are becoming more and more popular- such as garnet silver rings.
Garnet can come in many colors including orange, yellow red, pink, green, blue, black, purple, brown, and colorless. The rarest form is blue garnet, discovered in the late 1990s. It changes color from blue-green in the daylight to purple in incandescent light. Other varieties of color-changing garnets exist and can go from shades of green, beige, brown, and similar hues and then under special light conditions they can appear a reddish or purplish/pink color. Garnet stones are common in Claddagh necklaces and pieces because the deep red is a symbol of love and commitment.
Industrial uses for Garnet
Garnet stones can be made into coarse sand that makes a good abrasive compound, which is often used as a replacement for silica sand in sand blasting. Mixed with very high pressure water, garnet is used to cut steel and other materials in water jets. For water jet cutting, garnet is cut into rough angular pieces to make cutting easier. Garnet sand can also be used for water filtration media in certain setups.
Red garnets are thought to have been the most common gemstones that were used in the Late Antique Roman world and those who invaded and took over the Western Roman Empire. They were often used as gold inlays, a style many simply referred to as garnet cloisonné, which was found from Anglo-Saxon England to the Black Sea. Pure crystals of garnet are still used as gemstones today and are highly valued for jewelry. The most common pure gemstone varieties can be green, red, yellow, and orange. It is commonly known as the birthstone for January and it is also the state mineral of Connecticut, it is New York’s official state gemstone, and the variety known as star garnet is the state gemstone of Idaho. This gemstone is very popular in men and women’s jewelry and the composition of the stone is such that it can be fashioned into shapes and interesting designs such as heart shaped garnet and diamond rings.