Garnet is a type of silicate mineral, that is often used in jewelry-making. Silicate minerals are formed from rock, and make up roughly 90 percent of the Earth's crust.
The word garnet comes from the Middle-English word, meaning ‘dark red’ and is derived from the Latin word ‘granatus,’ meaning seed or grain. Considering the origin of its name, it is easy to imagine what garnets look like in their natural state, dark red seeds. In fact, some gemologists think that garnet is in reference to the latin word for pomegranate. Do you think this coincidence?
The use of garnet dates back to the Bronze Age, which spanned from 3300 BC to 1200 BC. It is still widely used today, in making jewelry, and even used as building material. Garnet can be ground into sand, and used as an abrasive substance, meaning it is good for sanding and cutting. In fact, garnet sand is often used to cut steel and other minerals, using a tool called a water jet. Water jets combine highly pressurized water with an abrasive substance; in this case, garnet sand. Garnet sandpaper is also used to sand down rough wood to build different types of furniture, and is favored by most cabinetmakers.
Garnets come is many different colors, such as red, orange, yellow, green, purple, brown, blue, black, pink, and colorless, with reddish shades most common. It chemical formula is X3Y2(SiO4)3, combining calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium, aluminum, iron, chromium, silicone and oxygen. In their natural state, garnets are mostly found in the dodecahedron shape, which has many sides.
Due to the complex chemical make-up, the atomic bonds in garnet are strong. As a result, it ranges from about 6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale.The Mohs scale is a scientific measure, used to describe the density and hardness of a certain mineral. It was created in 1812 by German geologist and mineralogist Friedrich Mohs, and rates mineral from 1 to 10. Mineral get their ranking based on the ability to visibly scratch or brake another. For example, Talc has a Mohs rating of 1, and therefor can be easily scratched by any other mineral. By contrast, diamonds have a rating of 10, making them nearly impossible to be scratched. Some other popular minerals, with similar Mohs ratings to garnet are quartz, pyrite(fools gold), silicon, opal, peridot, tanzanite, jade, emerald, and hardened steel.