Garnet is most often associated with the color red, but it is actually a gem that can occur in orange, yellow, purple, brown, black, pink and colorless. These other colors have specific names, but all of them are of the same family. The stone was thought to not occur in the color of blue, but in the 1990's a blue garnet was discovered in Madagascar. These blue garnets are very rare and the most expensive of all garnets. The name of the gemstone comes from the Latin granatum which means seed or grain, specifically the seed of the pomegranate which is also red in color. Garnet was occasionally mistaken for ruby throughout history, because of the similarity in appearance and the characteristic of some garnets to change colors when viewed in different light.
The ancient attributes for garnet include giving of strength, healing, relief for skin inflammation, regulating blood flow and curing depression. The stones were also in ancient times given as gifts. When friends exchanged garnets, it demonstrated their affection for one another.
The stone is primarily used in jewelry in modern times, but its hardness has also given it use in industrial applications. Although much more expensive than sand, garnet is sometimes used to blast clean items as it is much more efficient than sand. It can also be recovered and recycled in this process.
Garnet is found in many areas of the world, with some areas better known for colors of the stone besides red. Garnet is found in The United States in Idaho, New Mexico, Utah and Arkansas, in Russia, Africa Sri Lanka, Europe and South America.