Malaya or Malaia Garnet Value, Price, and Jewelry Information

“Garnet,” 3.10 cts, Barion octagon cut, orangey red. With a refractive index of 1.75, this is probably a malaia garnet. © Dan Stair Custom Gemstones. Used with permission.

Malaia Garnet (Malaya Garnet)

Garnets are a complicated family. The story of malaya or malaia 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 garnet came to the attention of the gem world in the 1970s, however, the outcast quickly became quite popular and valuable. These gems have since been found in a wider range of colors than the pink that initially garnered so much attention.

Malaia Garnet (Malaya Garnet) Value

Malaia garnet value increases as the tone lightens.

The International Gem Society (IGS) has a list of businesses offering gemstone appraisal services.

Garnet Value via Gem Price Guide

Almandine

Top Color: oR, R, PR, rP 6/4
Almandine All sizes
to /ct

Almandine/Pyrope Blend ("Mozambique")

Red-Brown Colors
"Mozambique" All sizes
to /ct

Rhodolite (Almandine/Pyrope Blend)

Fine Color: rP, PR 6/5
Rhodolite .5 to 1 carat 1 to 10 carats 10 carats plus
Faceted to /ct to /ct to /ct
Cabochons to /ct to /ct to /ct

Andradite

Fine Color: G 5/4
Andradite All sizes
to /ct

Demantoid

Demantoid to 1 carat 1 to 3 carats
to /ct to ,000/ct

Grossular

Grossular .5 to 1 carat 1 to 5 carats 5 carats plus
Mint Green (Merelani) to /ct to /ct to /ct
Yellow/Orange to /ct to /ct to /ct
Yellow/Green to /ct to /ct to /ct
Other colors /ct /ct to /ct

Hessonite

Fine Color: yO 4/5
Hessonite Garnet All sizes
to /ct

Tsavorite

Fine Color: G 6/5
Tsavorite .5 to 1 carat 1 to 2 carats 2 carats plus
Faceted to /ct to /ct to ,000/ct

Mali Garnets (Andradite/Grossular Blend)

Mali Garnet All sizes
to /ct

Malaya (Malaia) Garnets

Malaya Garnet .5 to 1 carat 1 to 5 carats 5 carats plus
to /ct to /ct to /ct

Pyrope

Fine Color: R 6/5
Pyrope 1 carat plus
/ct

Chrome Pyrope

Chrome Pyrope All sizes
to /ct

Spessartite

Spessartite Reds .5 to 3 carats 3 to 6 carats
Little 3 Mine to /ct to /ct
African to /ct to /ct
Darker reds to /ct

Mandarin

Fine Color: O 4/5
Mandarin Orange All sizes
to /ct

Uvarovite

Uvarovite 10 carats plus
Druzy to /ct

Star Garnet

Star Garnet All sizes
6 ray star to /ct
4 ray star to /ct

Color Change

Color Change .5 to 1 carat 1 to 6 carats
Africa to /ct to /ct
US to /ct to /ct

Cabochons

Cabochons All Sizes
Common red to purple to /ct

Malaia Garnet (Malaya Garnet) Information

Data Value
Name Malaia Garnet (Malaya Garnet)
Is a Variety of Garnet
Alternate Common Names Malaya Garnet
Crystallography Isometric.
Refractive Index 1.74–1.78
Colors Various shades of red, red-orange, orange, brownish orange, yellowish orange, peach, and pink.
Luster Vitreous.
Polish Luster Vitreous.
Hardness 7-7.5
Fracture Conchoidal
Specific Gravity 3.75-4.00
Birefringence None.
Cleavage None
Dispersion 0.022-0.027
Transparency Transparent to opaque.
Absorption Spectrum Absorption bands are always visible at 4100, 4210, and 4300 that may merge to form a cutoff at 4350. There may also be absorption bands at 4600, 4800, 5040, 5200, and 5370.
Phenomena Color change.
Birthstone January
Formula A3B2Si3O12. A = Mn, Mg, Fe. B = Al, Fe, V, Cr.
Pleochroism None.
Optics Isotropic. Some specimens may show anomalous birefringence.
Etymology From the Swahili word malaia, meaning “out of the family” or “outcast.”
Occurrence Alluvial deposits
Inclusions Rutile, pyrite, or apatite needles.
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

Popularity notwithstanding, the rare malaia garnet remains complicated. Currently, the name is used two different ways. 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.

Identifying Characteristics

Some malaia garnets may shift colors under incandescent and fluorescent light. When faceted, they may also show scintillating red flashes due to the presence of chromium or vanadium. Malaia garnet’s absorption spectrum and needle inclusions can also help distinguish these gems from other garnet varieties.

malaia garnet rough

Malaia garnet rough

Enhancements

These gems are not usually enhanced or synthesized.

Sources

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

Yellowish Malaia Garnet

“3.59-ct Yellowish Pyrope-Spessartine Garnet,” yellow with a hint of orange, likely a variety of malaia garnet. © All That Glitters. Used with permission.

Stone Sizes

Stones larger than four carats are very rare.

Trade Names

Light peach and pinkish orange malaia garnets 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 garnets, with their high hardness and excellent dispersion, are excellent stones for faceting. Garnets are best cleaned with warm water, detergent, and a soft brush. Consult our Gemstone Care Guide and Gemstone Jewelry Cleaning Guide for more information.

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