Malaya Garnet Gemstone Information
About Malaya Garnet - History and Introduction
Malaya (malaia) garnet is one of the rarer and more interesting 'hybrid' varieties of garnet. It is primarily a mix of pyrope and spessartine, which was first discovered in the 1960s. It was discovered in the Umba River Valley bordering Tanzania and Kenya, which remains the primary source for malaya garnet. GIA classifies malaya garnet as only a pyrope-spessartite species, but this may not be the case for all malaya garnet. For the most part, malaya garnet has been considered a variety of pyrope, since most tested specimens contained higher percentages of pyrope as their primary component. However, over the years, many malaya garnet specimens were discovered to contain equal parts of both spessartite or almandine. In some cases, stones also contained minor traces of grossular and andradite. Research has now shown that its composition can be highly variable, ranging anywhere from 2 to 94% spessartite, 0 to 83% pyrope, 2 to 78% almandine, 0 to 24% grossular and 0 to 4% andradite.
The term "malaya" was derived from a Swahili word meaning 'outcast' or 'prostitute'. Miners gave it this name because when it was first discovered, local dealers wouldn't buy it, simply because it didn't fall into any of the standard garnet categories; thus, it was cast aside. The first findings were believed to be a type of spessartite and they were often mined and mixed with parcels of rhodolite garnet. Since its discovery, the production and mining of malaya garnet has been very irregular, and because of its rarity, it is highly prized by gem collectors. Larger specimens, especially those over 3 to 5 carats, increase in value substantially and can demand very high premiums.
Identifying Malaya Garnet Back to Top
Malaya garnet's refractive index and specific gravity can overlap that of grossular, and materials can even form with near identical colors making them very difficult to distinguish from one another. Thus, identification of malaya garnet normally requires chemical analysis. Malaya garnet has excellent hardness of 7-7.5 on the Mohs scale and often exhibits needle-like inclusions which can help distinguish malaya garnet from other gems. Like all garnet, malaya has a very distinct cubic crystal structure; the rhombic dodecahedral faces are a hallmark of garnet gemstones. Other distinguishing aspects include lack of cleavage, fluorescence and lack of pleochroism, since garnet is singly refractive.
Malaya Garnet; Origin and Gemstone Sources Back to Top
Malaya garnet is found primarily in East Africa's Umba River Valley which borders northern Tanzania and Southern Kenya. In 1993, discoveries of similar material were also reported in Southern Tanzania. There have also been deposits found in both Madagascar and Sri Lanka (Ceylon).
Buying Malaya Garnet and Determining Malaya Garnet Gemstone Value Back to Top
Malaya Garnet Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemology-related terms.
Malaya Garnet: Related or Similar Gemstones Back to Top
The garnet group of gemstones is one of the most important in the gemstone industry. The garnet family also includes pyrope, almandine, spessartite, grossularite, uvarovite and andradite. Although there are only six distinct types of garnet, garnet commonly forms with more than just one mineral, which results in numerous hybrid gemstone varieties. In fact, very rarely is any garnet ever in pure form; for example, stones sold as 'pyrope' or 'almandine' almost always contain some traces of another garnet species. There are a number of other gemstones and minerals that can be easily mistaken for garnet stones, particularly because of the wide variety of colors and localities in which garnet can occur. Some of the most commonly confused materials include spinel, chrysoberyl, alexandrite, tourmaline and sapphire.
Malaya Garnet Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers Back to Top
Garnet is January's birthstone and is also associated with the zodiacal sign of Aquarius. Garnet is said to be a stone that encourages romance, love and passion. It is said to enhance sensuality, intimacy and sexuality. Garnet can strengthen one's level of creativity. It is also believed to boost positive energy, and self-confidence. Furthermore, garnet is thought to encourage business success.
Garnets were once used to treat and heal those with infectious disease, blood poisoning, heart issues and lung problems. It is considered to be a protective stone, protecting wearers from evil as well as nightmares and bad dreams. It is an excellent stone used in spiritual healing. Although garnet is primarily associated with the root chakra, depending upon its color, it can also be useful for opening up other chakras as well.
Malaya Garnet Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top
Malaya garnet can be used in all types of jewelry and is quite suitable for any design. Its hardness ranges from 6.50 to 7.00 on the Mohs scale, which makes it resistant to wear and tear. The absence of cleavage also adds to its durability. Malaya garnet also has remarkable dispersion and brilliance which makes it perfect for daily-wear rings, necklaces, bracelets, brooches, pins, and pendants. However, since hessonite is one of the rarer varieties of garnet, it is not normally found in local jewelry stores. Also, because it is typically untreated, it is commonly worn in planetary and astrological jewelry. Anniversary and eternity bands often use malaya garnet, due to the fact that garnet is the 2nd year wedding anniversary gemstone. Malaya garnet can also be found in many traditional birthstone jewelry designs. Best of all, malaya garnet is often available in large sizes, unlike many rare garnets.
Note: Buy colored gemstones by size and not by carat weight. Colored stones vary in size-to-weight ratio. Some stones are larger and others are smaller than diamonds by weight in comparison.
Malaya Garnet Gemstone Jewelry Care and Cleaning Back to Top
Malaya garnet can be cleaned using warm water and a mild soap or detergent. You can wipe down your stones with a soft cloth or brush. After wiping, be sure to rinse your gems and jewelry well to ensure that all soapy residue is removed. Avoid extreme heat and temperature fluctuations as this may cause fracturing. Ultrasonic cleaners are not recommended and steamers should be avoided, as well as the use of harsh household chemicals and cleaners, including bleach or hydrofluoric acid, since chemicals can cause corrosion.
Although malaya garnet is quite durable, it is still recommended to always remove any jewelry before engaging in vigorous physical activities, such as exercise or sports. When removing jewelry, do not pull from the stone as this can weaken prongs, eventually leading to a lost stone. When storing malaya garnet gems and jewelry, wrap them in a soft cloth or place them inside a fabric-lined jewelry box.
- First Published: April-11-2013
- Last Updated: October-17-2017
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