|Malaya Garnet: Another Brilliant Garnet?
As we all know, garnet is the official birthstone for the month of January. January brings in the New Year for us all and those lucky enough to be born in this month have many different varieties of garnet to choose from. One of the rarer and more interesting varieties is known in the trade as malaya garnet; it is sometimes spelled "malaia garnet" and several other ways too. Sometimes, the commercialized trade name "imperial garnet" is also used, but this typically refers to the lighter peachy and pinkish-orange specimens only.
Malaya garnet is a mixture of pyrope and spessartite garnet. An interesting fact is that the term "malaia" was derived from the Swahili word meaning "outcast". This is because when it was first discovered, it was thought to be a type of spessartite and even confused with rhodolite. The unusual stones were rejected by buyers because they didn't fall into any of the standard categories, and so they were originally considered outcast gems.
Garnet derives its name from the Latin word "granum", which means grain, or "granatus" meaning pomegranate. Malaya garnet is found in East Africa's Umba Valley. It was first discovered in the mid 1960s and the production of this variety has been very irregular since its discovery. Due to malaya garnet's rarity, it is highly prized by gem collectors, and specimens weighing over 3 carats can increase in value substantially.
Malaya Garnet Properties
Malaya garnet occurs in unique and interesting pinkish-orange, reddish-orange and yellowish-orange colors, with varied light and dark tones. Pinkish-orange or peachy specimens are more valuable than sun-kissed orange specimens. Rose colored gems are very popular, especially in round facet cuts. It is quite typical to find small needle-like inclusions in malaya garnet gems, which is why you will not find any malaya clarity graded as IF. However, these inclusions typically do not affect the beauty or value of this garnet. It's a naturally included gem, similar to emerald. Some malaya garnets may even display a slight color shifting quality under fluorescent and incandescent lighting. These color changing malaya garnets typically are a mix between spessartite and pyrope. Other than the color-change properties, they are identical to other malaya garnets in every way, therefore, they are still considered to be malaya garnet.
Malaya garnet, like all garnet, has excellent fire and dispersion, and because of this, they are most often faceted, but cabochons are still very popular. The fire and excellent brilliance is the result of garnet's high refractive index. Round, oval and cushion cuts are the most popular shapes, but any cut that maximizes brilliance and minimizes color darkness is acceptable.
Malaya garnet, like all garnet, is very durable due to its excellent hardness (7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale). Therefore, it is ideal to wear as any piece of jewelry.
Malaya Garnet TreatmentLike most garnets, malaya garnet is typically unenhanced and traded in its natural state, making this another wonderful option for those interested in purchasing untreated gemstones.
Caring For Your Malaya GarnetGarnet can be cleaned with warm water and a mild soap. It should only be wiped with a soft cloth or brush and properly rinsed to ensure that soapy residue is removed. Garnet can be cleaned with an ultrasonic cleaner (with exception to demantoid garnet), but caution should be taken while doing so. Garnet should not be steam-cleaned or exposed to harsh chemicals, such as hydrofluoric acid, which can cause corrosion. Extreme temperature changes can cause fracturing, so garnets should be kept away from extreme temperature fluctuations.
Rare and Unusual GemsThis month, GemSelect is pleased to showcase one of our more rare and unusual gemstones, which happens to be a malaya garnet.
Malaya Garnet Metaphysical Beliefs and Alternative Healing PropertiesGarnets carry many beliefs and powers and have been used since the Bronze Age. Garnets are believed to relieve skin inflammation and regulate the heartbeat and blood flow. Garnet is said to heal, strengthen and protect those who wear it and it is also thought to alleviate the symptoms of depression.
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- First Published: February-01-2013
- Last Updated: August-13-2019
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