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May-June 2009

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Connoisseur's Choice: Almandine

New York City, New York County, New York State


The minerals of the garnet group represent some of the most collectible of all species. They are relatively plentiful and typically available in good-quality specimens from many worldwide localities, usually at reasonable prices. Garnets are important to scientists because they signal certain significant geologic processes or conditions and, in some instances, are indicators of important mineral deposits. In fact, in some types of economic deposits, garnet constitutes an important gangue mineral, and such occurrences have themselves been sources of fine specimens. Common species, such as almandine, are produced today for abrasive purposes and have been used since antiquity as gemstones. Two of the rarer garnets, uvarovite and andradite, variety demantoid, have been featured in this column (Cook 1993, 1998), but until now none of the more widespread garnets have been nominated. However, with this issue’s emphasis on New York minerals and the presence of America’s largest hard-rock garnet mines within its borders, a famous New York garnet specimen has been chosen for this issue’s Connoisseur’s Choice piece. Moreover, garnet was designated as New York’s official state gemstone in 1969.
Dr. Robert B. Cook, an executive editor of Rocks & Minerals, is a professor emeritus in the Department of Geology and Geography at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama. He welcomes suggestions for this column and can be contacted at the addresses above.

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