Most remaining red garnets (usually a deep, violet-red) come under the name of almandine, even when their composition is midway between that of pyrope and almandineand similar, in many cases, too that of rhodolite. The reason for this is the similar'ity in their color and absorption spectrum characteristics. The name almandine comes from carbunculus alabandicus, after the city of Alabanda In Asia Minor, where gems were traded at the time of Pliny the Elder (carbunculus, as already explained, means "small coa|" and has been used,to refer to red stones in general).
Appearance The color isred, but often a deep; violet-red. It has brilliant luster, but its transparency is frequently marred, even in very clear stones, by excessive depth of color. The cabochon cut is widely used, often being given strongly convex shape and sometimes a concave base, In an effort to lighten the color by reducing the thickness. Rose cuts have also been used, particularly in the past. Nowadays, when the material is quite transparent, faceted cuts are used as well, and sometimes square or rectangular step cuts. Gems of several carats are not uncommon. Faceted or even barely rounded pieces of almandine, pierced as necklace beads, were very common in the recent past, but are now considered old-fashioned.
Distinctive features The deep, almost violet-red is fairly typical, and has given rise to the expression “garnet red." It is not enlivened, as are dark rubies, even by strong light, and its single refraction and lack of visible pleochroism should normally distinguish it from similarly colored rubellite. If fairly transparent faceted stones are viewed from above, some of the facets often look black on the inside (this is known as the “garnet effect"). Almandine has Iuster comparable to that of corundum. It is not easily distinguished from spinel, except by examining the physical properties, which can vary quite considerably, according to the composition: the density is between 3.95 and 4.20 g/cm3, or thereabouts; the refractive index varies from 1 .76 to 1 .83 (the density increases parallel to the index). It has a hardness of about 6-7.5.
Occurrence Almandine is obtained in large quantities from Sri Lanka and India, where it is also cut; other sources are Burma, Brazil, the United States, Madagascar, Tanzania, and Australia.
Value This depends on brightness of color and freedom from cracks and inclusions, but is always quite low. Almandine was extremely popular in the nineteenth century,but the name “garnet” is now automatically associated with cheap stones.
Simulants and synthetics Almandine has been imitated by glass, which can look very similar. It has apparently been produced synthetically, but not on a commercial basis.