malaya garnet buying guide - 4.15ct mahenge surrounded by rough
malaya garnet buying guide - 4.15ct mahenge surrounded by rough

Malaya Garnet Buying Guide


Rare malaya garnets come in many colors and make wonderful jewelry stones for any style. Learn the 4 Cs of this gem in our malaya garnet buying guide.

3 Minute Read

One Stone, Many Names

Sapphire miners along the Umba River in Tanzania were the first to find these garnets in the 1960s. However, gem dealers in East Africa didn't want them, as they didn't fit the mold of any of the known garnet types. These miners dubbed them malaya (sometimes spelled malaia), the Swahili word for "outcast." When Western dealers learned of these stones, excitement quickly grew. After the initial years of discovery, rough became scarce. The large and attractive water-worn rough from this deposit had sold out. The area now produced only a trickle.

Since then, new sources of malaya garnets have been discovered. While most new finds have occurred along the Tanzania-Kenya border, miners have also found malaya garnet in Madagascar. More recently, malaya garnets from a more southerly region of Tanzania have made a splash. These "mahenge garnets" with a beautiful range of hues are attracting attention.

Some dealers advertise "Umbalite," though this name has an unclear meaning. While some insist that the term refers to malaya garnets, others contend that umbalite is a rhodolite garnet from the Umba valley.

In addition, some prefer to use the name "pyralspite" in reference to the stone's chemistry,...


Addison Rice

A geologist, environmental engineer and Caltech graduate, Addison’s interest in the mesmerizing and beautiful results of earth’s geological processes began in her elementary school’s environmental club. When she isn’t writing about gems and minerals, Addison spends winters studying ancient climates in Iceland and summers hiking the Colorado Rockies.

Never Stop Learning

When you join the IGS community, you get trusted diamond & gemstone information when you need it.

Become a Member

Get Gemology Insights

Get started with the International Gem Society’s free guide to gemstone identification. Join our weekly newsletter & get a free copy of the Gem ID Checklist!