Barion-cut malaia garnet
Barion-cut malaia garnet

Malaya or Malaia Garnet Value, Price, and Jewelry Information


Malaia or malaya garnets are typically light to dark, slightly pinkish orange, reddish orange, or yellowish orange in color. This a popular but rare garnet variety.

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Malaia or malaya garnets are typically light to dark, slightly pinkish orange, reddish orange, or yellowish orange in color. This a popular but rare garnet variety.

Barion-cut malaia garnet
Barion octagon-cut malaia garnet, orangey red, 3.10 cts. © Dan Stair Custom Gemstones. Used with permission.

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Malaia Garnet (Malaya Garnet) Value

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Malaia garnet value increases as the tone lightens.

Although these gems were readily available in the 1970s, they have since become scarce, especially in large sizes.

For more information on quality and value factors for malaia garnets, consult our buying guide.

cushion-cut malaya garnet - Tanzania
Cushion-cut malaia garnet, Tanzania, 14.46 cts. This gem was cut from rough acquired in the late 1970s. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.
Malaia Garnet - Tanzania
Malaia Garnet: Tanzania (12.80, 11.39, 6.38 // 8.23, 8.56, 14.46). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Comments

Garnets are a complicated family. The story of malaia or malaya garnet illustrates this well. Discovered in the 1960s in the Umba Valley in Tanzania, these pink gems were called malaia, Swahili for "out of the family." Miners who were being paid to search for violet rhodolite literally set aside these finds. At that time, they didn't fit into any known garnet varieties.

When malaia garnets came to the attention of the gem world in the 1970s, however, the outcast quickly became quite popular and valuable. Since then, new discoveries have revealed these gems occur in a wider range of colors than the pink that initially garnered so much attention.

What is a Malaia Garnet?

Popularity notwithstanding, these rare gems remain complicated. Currently, the name has two different uses. It's a trade name for pyrope-spessartine garnets with light to slightly dark colors ranging from pink, pinkish orange, yellowish orange, orange, to red. It's also a variety of pyralspite (a blend of pyrope, almandine, and spessartite garnets) with a very wide range of possible mixtures. Malaia garnets may consist of 0-83% pyrope, 2-78% almandine, 2-94% spessartite, and 0-24% grossular, with no more than 4% andradite.

pyrope-spessartite
3.59-ct pyrope-spessartine garnet, yellow with a hint of orange, likely a variety of malaia garnet. © All That Glitters. Used with permission.

Identifying Characteristics

Malaia garnet rough

Some malaia garnets may change colors under incandescent and fluorescent light. When faceted, they may also show scintillating red flashes due to the presence of chromium or vanadium.

This gem's absorption spectrum and needle inclusions can also help distinguish them from other garnet varieties.

Enhancements

These gems aren't usually enhanced or synthesized.

Sources

The Umba Valley in Tanzania, the first known source of malaia garnet, now rarely produces the material. The gemstone also occurs in Tunduro, Tanzania, as well as Kenya and Madagascar.

Stone Sizes

Stones larger than four carats are very rare.

One of the world's largest malaia garnets, a 74.36-ct specimen. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Trade Names

Light peach and pinkish orange malaias are sometimes marketed as "Imperial garnets." Brownish, pinkish orange specimens from Madagascar with a high anomalous double refraction have been called "Imperial malaia garnet." Tan, beige specimens are marketed as "Champagne garnet."

Care

Malaia Garnet Ring
Malaya garnet ring. © Dan Stair Custom Gemstones. Used with permission.

With their high hardness, no cleavage, and excellent dispersion, malaia garnets are excellent stones for faceting and any type of jewelry use. For engagement ring design ideas, consult our garnet engagement ring guide.

However, take care when cleaning these gems and garnets in general. Inclusions may burst due to extreme heat or ultrasound and fracture the stone. Avoid mechanical cleaning systems and stick to a soft brush, mild detergent, and warm water, instead.

Consult our gemstone care guide and gemstone jewelry cleaning guide for more information.


Joel E. Arem, Ph.D., FGA

Dr. Joel E. Arem has more than 60 years of experience in the world of gems and minerals. After obtaining his Ph.D. in Mineralogy from Harvard University, he has published numerous books that are still among the most widely used references and guidebooks on crystals, gems and minerals in the world.

Co-founder and President of numerous organizations, Dr. Arem has enjoyed a lifelong career in mineralogy and gemology. He has been a Smithsonian scientist and Curator, a consultant to many well-known companies and institutions, and a prolific author and speaker. Although his main activities have been as a gem cutter and dealer, his focus has always been education. joelarem.com


Donald Clark, CSM IMG

The late Donald Clark, CSM founded the International Gem Society in 1998. Donald started in the gem and jewelry industry in 1976. He received his formal gemology training from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Society of Gemcutters (ASG). The letters “CSM” after his name stood for Certified Supreme Master Gemcutter, a designation of Wykoff’s ASG which has often been referred to as the doctorate of gem cutting. The American Society of Gemcutters only had 54 people reach this level. Along with dozens of articles for leading trade magazines, Donald authored the book “Modern Faceting, the Easy Way.”


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