The air is cool and touches of red have begun to appear across our Vermont landscape. Jewelry fashion follows the seasons in its own way, almost on a whim. We are drawn to reds and oranges, in spite of ourselves. They are invigorating. They make us feel bold and daring. They add new character to our everyday clothes.
Almandine stands out for its beauty and poetic name, and the fact that few have the right clarity to make a good gem. Fewer yet display a star-like inclusion, or asterisk, that makes them an ideal candidate for a cabochon cut. These are also known as “star garnets.”
Almandine is known as the “Stone of Truth and Knowledge.” It is believed to assist in keeping one’s composure and focus on the present in the midst of challenges. It is said to increase resistance to adversity. In addition to this, it is valued by practitioners of chakra energy balancing.
Almandines are revealed when mica deposits break down from natural wear, releasing well formed red crystals, known as floater crystals. Most are of deep red color or reddish-brown. Some are black with red edges. Occasionally, they are multicolored. Iron is usually present and gives the gem its characteristic color.
Sri Lanka and Australia are fertile grounds for almandine. The first specimens found in Australia were mistaken for rubies, and thus almandine is also called Australian ruby. The name “almandine” is a derivation from Alabanda, an ancient town in Asia Minor where almandine was discovered centuries ago.
In the United States, almandine is found primarily in Alaska. The clear, red specimens are used mainly in the jewelry trade. Opaque and darker colored specimens are crushed and used in the composition of abrasive agents.
The almandine is said to be a gem of influence from October to March. The red gem we call “garnet” is an almandine of specific quality and clarity. As the birthstone for January, the garnet is associated with the desire for truth, and thus we come full circle to the stone of truth and knowledge, as red and beautiful as Autumn.