What is Mahenge Umbalite Garnet?
Garnets are unusual among gemstones, as each variety represents a particular blend of gem unique to where it’s found. Mahenge umbalite is a rare stone, featuring a unique blend of pyrope, almandine and spessartine garnets, not often seen in today’s market.
A minor controversy surrounds the umbalite name, and it may sometimes be referred to as Malaya (or malaia) garnet. In Swahili, “Malaya” is a word for outcast or outsider. When this material was first found, dealers showed no interest in it, preferring other specimens at the time. Dubbing the stone “Malaya” was a way of describing it as a trash stone by miners and dealers. It wasn’t until American and German buyers expressed interest in the new material that it began to take off. As anyone who has seen a polished specimen can attest, umbalite is a breathtaking stone undeserving of its old moniker.
Adding to the confusion? Many thousands of carats of poor-quality brown garnet flooded the market in the early 1980’s. Unscrupulous dealers of this junky material sold it under the Malaya name, further tarnishing this beautiful gem’s budding reputation. Compared to genuine Mahenge umbalite, there’s no way to confuse the two when viewed side-by-side.
Very rarely, umbalite may be called pyralspite, in reference to its rare composition of pyrope, almandine, and spessartine (spessartite) garnets.
Determining Mahenge Umbalite Garnet Value
The value of colored stones is typically determined by a combination of its color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. This is no different when determining what Mahenge umbalite garnet’s worth. These guidelines will help you choose garnet stones for your collection.
- Mahenge Umbalite Garnet Color
Mahenge umbalite ranges in color from the tantalizing purplish-pink of a fresh orchid to the deeper purple of a lilac. Other times, orange-pinks comparable to imperial topaz are witnessed. Compared to rhodolite garnet, its closest cousin, umbalite features less red blush, resulting in a cooler colored stone, a result of the trace amounts of spessartine found within.
- Mahenge Umbalite Garnet Clarity
Coupled with umbalite’s excellent dispersion, and Type II eye-clean clarity, this stone sparkles all day, making it the perfect companion for jewelry that transitions well from day to night. A near diamond-like luster keeps it sparkling!
- Mahenge Umbalite Garnet Cut
Round and oval shapes are the most popular for faceting, as this best helps display the color potential of a stone while providing the largest sizes.
- Mahenge Umbalite Garnet Carat
Like many other garnets, Mahenge umbalite looks its best in smaller sizes, as the gem’s full potential of color display comes to the fore. Many stones get darker as they get bigger, and this is particularly the case with garnets. While the intensity and vibrancy of color in a colored gemstone is its most important factor, the effect can become spoiled when the hue is too dark.
Mahenge Umbalite Garnet Treatment
Mahenge umbalite is not treated in any way. All its color varieties are naturally formed.
Caring for Mahenge Umbalite Garnet
Ranking 7 to 7.5 on Mohs scale of hardness, and possessing fair to good toughness, umbalite is a great stone to consider for daily wear jewelry. Although sudden temperature change can cause fracturing, it is resistant to abrasion, and not likely to scratch.
Wear umbalite jewelry with confidence, as this stone is low maintenance and easy to clean. A simple solution of mild dish soap and lukewarm water, plus a soft bristle brush is all that’s needed. Rinse with fresh water. Dry gently with a soft cloth. Ultrasonic cleaners are usually safe for this stone, but steam cleaning is not advised.
Store Mahenge umbalite garnet in a fabric lined jewelry box. This will help preserve your stone for years of enjoyment.
Who Can Wear Mahenge Umbalite Garnet?
Mahenge umbalite is available in a variety of pinkish-purple, purple and orange-pink hues. Purple hues favor both warm and cool color palettes and hence the gem adds a fascinating sparkle for both daytime and evening attire. Creating a beautiful romantic vibe, this gemstone can be worn by anyone who fancies imperial topaz, rhodolite garnet, purple garnet, kunzite, or Rose de France amethyst!
How Does Mahenge Umbalite Garnet Compare to Other Purple Stones?
Purple is most often thought of as a representative of royalty. The color communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking. Color-wise, the gem resembles rhodolite garnet and purple garnet and lies somewhere in between. Umbalite is more like Bahia amethyst than the saturated purple of Lusaka or Moroccan amethyst. The gem can also serve as an affordable substitute to purple diamond.
Where Does Mahenge Umbalite Garnet Come From?
Umbalite is a rarely seen gemstone, and for the longest time, it was only known to occur in the Umba Valley. In fact, umbalite’s name is related to its place of discovery – the Umba River area of northeastern Tanzania. The area is a famous mining locality, well-known around the world for producing sapphires and garnets. Umbalite was first identified in the late ‘70s.
Unfortunately, irregular mining practices have kept the supply entering the market limited for many years.
With such a complex and unusual blend of garnets forming umbalite, it was never expected to be found again. That what makes the recent discoveries of Mahenge umbalite so exciting! Mahenge is already loved for its colorful spinel gems, and the discovery of umbalite in 2015 adds another dynamic jewel to the country’s gemological bounty.
How is Mahenge Umbalite Garnet Mined?
Mahenge is a limestone plateau area in the Ulanga district. Artisanal miners use traditional tools such as shovels and picks to mine rough umbalite from this region. Frequently, it can be found in alluvial deposits in the plateau. Alluvium is loose chunks of rock, sand, gravel and other mixed material that’s been weathered and moved by natural forces, such as weather patterns like rain.
Mahenge Umbalite Garnet Properties
What Does Mahenge Umbalite Garnet Mean?
Garnet is said to help with treatment of disturbed blood circulation and strengthening of heart. It brings vitality and strengthens the memory. The gem is said to symbolize constructiveness.
Disclaimer: For informational purposes only. These remedies, approaches, and techniques are not a substitute for professional medical care or treatment. They should not be used to treat any ailment without prior consultation with a qualified health care professional.
Is Mahenge Umbalite Garnet a Birthstone?
Garnet is the birthstone for January. In fact, garnets have been used in birthstone jewelry since at least the 15th century. Traditionally, red garnets come to mind when thinking of this gem, but luckily for January babies, there are a variety of exciting garnets from which to choose. The calm and refreshing pink and purple hues of Mahenge umbalite make an excellent addition to this growing selection.
Mahenge Umbalite Garnet Facts
- Ranks 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale.
- Color presents as a purplish-pink to purple or orange-pink hue.
- Sourced from Mahenge, Ulanga, Morogoro region, Tanzania.
- All natural. No known treatments.
- May also be known as malaya garnet or pyralspite.