Connecticut State Symbols: State Mineral Almandine Garnet

04.28.2016

Although Connecticut doesn't have a state gemstone, it does have a state mineral that is also a gemstone - the group of garnets classified as almandine (iron aluminum garnet).  These garnets are found in numerous locations throughout Connecticut: the most famous spots for finding garnets include Colchester, Redding and Roxbury.  Most garnets found in Connecticut are deep burgundy red, often with some brown undertones.  Gem quality garnets in the state are fairly rare, although some nice ones have been found.  This photo of Connecticut garnet crystals comes from ereferencedesk.com

The garnets that are not this nice are used for abrasives and emery boards.  And, while most are burgundy red, you can actually find garnets in many other colors in Connecticut.  Other garnets found here include pyrope (magnesium aluminum garnet), grossular (calcium aluminum garnet), spessartite (manganese aluminum garnet) and andradite (calcium iron garnet).  Garnets can be found in igneous rock pegmatites, coarse granite and in granite gneiss. This photo of garnet in matrix is from the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven.

The best known place to collect garnets in Connecticut was Green's Garnet Farm near Roxbury Falls.  Unfortunately, it is currently closed for any collection.  There is an Essonite garnet outcrop near West Redding; you'll need permission from the owner to collect there.  From the West Redding Train Station, follow the tracks about 1/2 mile and look for a rock outcrop on the left.  You'll need heavy tools to collect at this site.

Herb Heweitt's Gem  Mine near Haddam in Middlesex County re-opened in 2013.  It's a group of pegmatite quarries.  Collection for a fee.

This is a photo of the Connecticut Gem and Mineral Society collecting at Roxbury before the site closed.

There are also plenty of other minerals to collect in Connecticut.  Here are a few you can find:  quartz, albite, amphiboles, muscovite, fluorapatite, zircon, schorl, pyrite, olivine, tourmaline, beryl, lepidolite, topaz, opal, fluorite, calcite, dolomite, diopside, epidote, zoisie, danburite, forsterite, feldspars, prehnite and amazonite.

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