garnet, name applied to a group of isomorphic minerals crystallizing in the cubic system. They are used chiefly as gems and as abrasives (as in garnet paper). The garnets are double silicates; one of the metallic elements is calcium, magnesium, ferrous iron, or manganese and the other aluminum, ferric iron, or chromium. Six varieties (of which there are also intermediate forms) are distinguished according to composition—grossularite (calcium-aluminum), pyrope (magnesium-aluminum), spessartite (manganese-aluminum), almandite (iron-aluminum), andradite (calcium-iron), and uvarovite (calcium-chromium). Grossularite occurs commonly in a red, green, yellow, or brown shade, depending on the impurities; if pure it would be colorless. The yellow and brown stones, coming chiefly from Sri Lanka, are used as gems under the names essonite (or hessonite) and cinnamon stone; sometimes they are miscalled hyacinth. Grossularite is found also in the Transvaal, in Mexico, and in Oregon. The most popular variety of garnet is the ruby-red pyrope from Bohemia, S Africa, and Arizona, sold as Cape ruby and Arizona ruby. Rhodolite, a mixture of pyrope and almandite from North Carolina, is rose-red or purple. Spessartite, a brown to brownish-red garnet from Bavaria, Sri Lanka, and parts of the United States, is seldom used for jewelry. Deep red, transparent almandite is the carbuncle; it was formerly a very popular gem. Almandites come chiefly from Brazil, India, and Sri Lanka; Australia and parts of the United States are also important sources. Andradite, a very common variety, is usually some shade of red, black, brown, yellow, or green. Gem varieties include topazolite, similar in color and transparency to topaz; demantoid, a green variety with a high dispersion and adamantine luster, sometimes miscalled olivine and Uralian emerald; and black melanite. Demantoid is found in the Urals, and the other andradites come chiefly from Europe and the United States. Uvarovite, an emerald-green variety from Russia and Finland, is rarely suitable for gem use. Garnet occurs in many different kinds of rocks—grossularite, in metamorphosed impure limestones; pyrope, in basic igneous rocks; spessartite, in granite rocks; almandite, in schists and other metamorphic rocks as well as in igneous rocks; andradite, in serpentine; and uvarovite, chiefly in serpentine.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.