The pinkish orange stones discovered in the Umba Valley bordering Tanzania and Kenya were first thought to be odd colored Spessartites but after testing were found to be a mixture of pyrope, spessartite and grossular and were initially referred to as Umbalite.
Malaia, sometimes spelled Malaya, is name given to garnets orange to pinkish orange to red in color which do not match the color and gemological properties of any of the other more well known varieties of garnet. Indeed, the word malaia means "out of the family" or "outcast" in Swahili.
Primarily composed of spessartite and pyrope, the color and gemological properties occur in a range which can overlap with grossularite, rhodolite, and pyrope and the mixture of garnet species that can make up malaya is highly variable: pyrope, almandine, spessartite, grossular and andradite. Some of malaia garnets may exhibit color change under daylight and incandescent lighting due to the presence of vanadium or chromium in trace amounts.
Malaia garnet can be difficult to separate from grossular hessonites because the two varieties can be identical in color and can also overlap in both density and refractive index. Specific identification of Malaya (pyrope-spessartine garnets) normally requires spectral analysis. Malaia garnets contain Mn, and Mg, with traces of Ca while grossular hessonites do not contain Mn, or Mg and contain more Ca. A spectroscope is the easiest way to separate the two varieties.
The only commercial deposits of Malaia occur in the Umba Valley in Kenya, in Northern Tanzania and in South Madagascar near Bekily. Large sizes are uncommon and most of the rough is small.
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