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Malaya (Malaia) and Mahenge Garnet
Malaia garnet or “malaya” garnet is a gemological varietal name for light to dark pinkish orange, reddish orange, or yellowish orange garnet, that are a mixture of pyrope and spessartite. It is found in east Africa, in the Umba Valley bordering Tanzania and Kenya. Malaia was at first believed to be a type of spessartite garnet. During the 1970’s rough malaia garnets were being mixed with parcels of Rhodolite garnet being offered for sale. These odd color stones were rejected, and the name given to this type of garnet was “malaia”, which is a Swahili word meaning “outcast”. It came into usage for a number of garnets that did not fit into any of the standard categories. Most imperial malaia garnets have microscopic needle-like inclusions that do not detract from the overall beauty of this material. Some of them exhibit a color-shift effect from flourescent to incandescent light.
Color change garnets are mostly pyrope and spessartite in composition. Except for the color change, they are identical in properties to the malaia variety. Their primary source is Africa.
We are excited to present a new find of garnets below, from Mahenge, Tanzania, the same region famous for its spinels. The color is so unusual we have affectionately nicknamed these our ‘padparadscha garnets’. The colors we have range from a yellow peach to a pinky peach, they are unheated and untreated in any way. They are unlike anything we have seen before. With the toughness of garnet, these will make very good ring stones, with a reasonably protective setting.