January: Month of Garnet

October 14, 2002
Burke Museum
A garnet in its naturally occurring state.

A garnet in its naturally occurring state. Photo: Burke Museum.

Cut garnet

Cut garnet. Photo: “Garnet” by Mauro Cateb is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Rose quartz pebbles

Photo: “Rose Quartz Pebbles” by Mauro Cateb is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

History of garnet

There are many different myths about the origins of garnet. One such myth suggests that the garnet originated with Persephone, the Greek goddess of sunshine. Persephone was captured by Hades, the god of the underworld. Before Hades released Persephone, he wanted to guarantee her return, so he gave her some pomegranate seeds. The word garnet comes from the Latin "granatus," which means seed. The next time you eat a pomegranate, you will notice the seeds' resemblance to garnet.

Science of garnet

Garnet is actually a group of six different stones: grossular (red to orange colors), almandine (red), pyrope (red and pink), spessartite (green-brown), andradite (brown to black), and uvarovite (emerald green). Garnets can be found in metamorphic rocks and sometimes in granites and volcanic rocks.

These special minerals form deep underground, enduring extreme temperatures and pressures. For this reason, geologists may use garnets to study the temperature and pressure of the surrounding rock. Garnets belong to the isometric crystal class, which produces symmetrical, cube-based crystals. 

Group: Garnets
Class: Silicates
Subclass: Nesosilicates
Chemistry: Ca3Al2 (SiO4)3

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