Heavy Mineral Garnet Sand

Orient Point, Long Island, NY

Leo Kenney

   Tiny pink to reddish garnets are commonly found in sands. On the beach, swaths or layers of dark sands, perhaps with a pink to purplish hue, often include garnets.


   Garnets are a group of silicate minerals that occur in many colors ranging from deep red to pink and purple to orange, green and yellow. The pink to reddish varieties are the most common. All species of garnets share a similar crystal structure, but differences in chemical compositions determines the color. Individual grains often are round, an artifact of their original 12-sided, dodecahedron crystal shape; broken grains show conchoidal fracture.   


   Because of their hardness and density, garnets are considered a “heavy mineral,” and they are commonly found in beach sands along with other heavy minerals including magnetite, ilmenite, zircons and even gold.


   Where do garnets originate from? They are a common rock-forming mineral in igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rock types. As these rocks break down, the hard garnets become components of sand.

   The name “garnet” comes from the Latin, granatum from its resemblance to the seeds of a pomegranate.

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