By Reviewed By Andreas Zabczyk

Almandine Garnet Gemstone Information

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About Almandine Garnet - History and Introduction

Almandine garnet, also known as almandite, belongs to the vast group of garnet gemstones. Almandine is one of the most common garnet varieties, but unfortunately, gem-quality stones have been very rarely surfacing in the international gem markets over the last decade. Even so, the price-per-carat for almandine has remained steady and very modest, similar to that of pyrope, another closely related popular red garnet variety. Although there are large amounts of almandine sourced from all over the world, only a small percentage are of gem quality. Most material is used as abrasives or sandblasting in the industrial sector, since it lacks the transparency and clarity that jewelers demand.

The word 'garnet' is derived from the Latin word "granatus", which means grain, because many garnet deposits appear as small grains of red crystals in their host rock. Almandine occurs in a range of reds, including brownish-red, orangey-red and purplish-red. The reason for such color difference is that garnet is rarely ever pure, resulting in mixed garnets, typically traces of pyrope or spessartite. Almandine is a popular gemstone for gemstone jewelry due to its excellent hardness (7.5 on the Mohs scale) and brilliance resulting from its high refractive index. Its name, 'almandine' originates from 'alabandicus', the name of a stone found in the small town of Alabanda, located in Caria, the second smallest province of Asia Minor.

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Identifying Almandine Garnet

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Almandine garnet can be difficult to distinguish from other garnet types by appearance alone, as well as other red stones. Almandine garnet will typically have darker tones compared to other red gems, but top-quality specimens do have red colors similar to that of ruby. A strong neodymium magnet will be able help distinguish garnet from other gemstones. Measuring a stone's magnetic susceptibility in collaboration with its refractive index can be used to distinguish specific garnet species and varieties, and it can also determine the percentage of composition in hybrid variety garnets.

Almandine Garnet Origin and Gemstone Sources

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Almandine garnet gemstones can be found in many origins and sources including Brazil, India, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and the United States. Smaller deposits exist in Austria and the Czech Republic. Almandine garnet star gemstones are found in India and the United States. Idaho is known to be a very large source for star garnet gems. Almandine found in Sri Lanka is sometimes referred to as Ceylon ruby.

Buying Almandine Garnet and Determining its Gemstone Value

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Almandine Garnet Color

Almandine garnet colors can range from pure red, reddish-orange and slightly purplish-red to dark, brownish-red. The unique deep red color of almandine is a direct result from the presence of iron. Almandine garnet with pure, deep red colors are the most desirable and valuable of almandine stones.

Almandine Garnet Clarity and Luster

Almandine garnet has a vitreous luster. Gem quality almandine garnet is translucent, but depending on the cut, some stones may appear to be more translucent to opaque. Most almandine garnet rough is opaque and not considered to be of gem quality. These specimens are typically used for various industrial purposes.

Almandine Garnet Cut and Shape

Almandine garnet is often cut en cabochon with convex faces, and these specimens are sometimes referred to as carbuncles. Carbuncle is an old term used to describe any type of red gemstone cabochon. There are abundant amounts of very large sized almandine garnet crystals, but because of their dark tones, only small to medium-sized gems are faceted. When faceted, they are often cut slightly shallow to allow light to pass through them. Some garnet stones when cut en cabochon can display an asterism effect; these are referred to as star garnets. Almandine garnets can be found in a wide variety of shapes and cut styles including round, oval, pear, heart and trillion faceted or cabochons.

Almandine Garnet Treatment

Like most garnet stones, almandine garnet is not treated or enhanced in any way.

Almandine Garnet Gemological Properties:

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Chemical Formula: Fe3Ai2 (Sio4)3 Iron aluminum silicate
Crystal Structure: (Cubic), rhombic dodecahedron, icositetrahedron
Color: Red with a violet tint
Hardness: 6.5 - 7.5 on the Mohs scale
Refractive Index: 1.770 - 1.820
Density: 3.93 - 4.30
Cleavage: None
Transparency: Transparent to opaque
Luster: Vitreous
Fluorescence: Mostly none

Almandine Garnet: Garnet Varieties or Similar Gemstones:

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Shop star garnet cabochons at GemSelect

Garnet is one of the most important gemstone groups available today. All garnet gemstones share a similar crystal structure and have similar, though slightly varying chemical compositions. In gemology, there are six primary species of garnet, including almandine garnet, pyrope garnet,  spessartite garnet, grossularite garnet, uvarovite garnet and andradite garnet. Almandine is one of the red garnet varieties. There are also a variety of hybrid garnets with mixed compositions. The main garnet types are the most popular of garnets and the hybrid varieties are lesser known, but still very abundant.

Most Popular Garnet Varieties and Trade Names:

Star garnet, pyrope, rhodolite, spessartite, grossularite garnet, tsavorite garnet, demantoid garnet, color-change garnet and malaya (malaia) garnet are among the more popular garnet varieties.

Lesser Known Garnet Gemstones and Trade Names:

Hydrogrossular, andradite garnet, mali garnet, melanite garnet, topazolite, uvarovite garnet drusy, hessonite garnet, leuco garnet and umbalite garnet are among the lesser-known garnet varieties.

Almandine Garnet Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Healing

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Red gemstone cabochons have historically been used as friendship gems. Ancient people thought that when a wise man dreamed about almandine garnets, he would soon discover a solution to all of the mysteries of life. Garnet is the birthstone for those who are born in January. It is also the stone which represents Aquarius on the zodiac. Those who wear garnet shall reap the many benefits and astrological powers that they possess. In Antiquity, as well as in the Middle Ages, people believed that the cosmos is reflected in the gemstones. The garnet is assigned to the planets Mars, Mercury and Pluto. The esoteric movement revived the ancient belief and the gem industry made it another marketing tool to certain gemstones, including garnets.

The healing powers of gemstones remain a controversial issue, but for centuries, they have been used by many crystal healers, shamans and medicine men. Whether it is a placebo effect or an actual fact, it does not really matter as long as they help alleviate pain and cure illness. The most common practice is to wear the gemstone with contact to the skin and especially to the troubled part of the body. Garnet is said to be of help for arthritis, varicose veins and backache.

Disclaimer: Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers and Properties are not to be taken as confirmed advice. Should you have any medical conditions, please see a licensed practitioner. This information is not to replace the advice of your doctor. GemSelect does not guarantee any claims or statements made and cannot be held liable under any circumstances.

Almandine Garnet Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas

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Almandine garnets are used in all types of jewelry and are quite suitable for any design. They have excellent hardness, brilliance and durability which makes them ideal for use in rings, necklaces, bracelets, brooches and pendants. Typically, garnets are considered to be affordable, though there are rare varieties considered to be very expensive. When it comes to red gems and red gemstone jewelry, almandine and pyrope garnets are the most popular gem types used in jewelry today.

Note: Buy colored gemstones by size and not by carat weight. Colored stones vary in size-to-weight ratio. Some stones are larger and others are smaller than diamonds by weight in comparison.

Almandine Garnet Gemstone and Jewelry Care and Cleaning

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How to Clean your GemstonesGarnet gemstones can be cleaned with warm water and a mild soap and then wiped with a soft cloth or soft brush if needed. After wiping, they should be properly rinsed using warm or room-temperature water to ensure all soapy residue is completely removed. Garnets should not be exposed to extreme heat, because any extreme temperature changes or fluctuations can cause fracturing.

Most garnets can be cleaned with ultrasonic cleaners, with the exception of demantoid garnet, but caution should always be taken while doing so. Garnet stones should not be steam cleaned and they should not be exposed to harsh chemicals, such as hydrofluoric acid, because the chemicals can cause corrosion.

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