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January Birthstone

Umbalite also known as Malaya (Malaia) garnet. Umbalite is a relatively new member of the garnet group. First noticed in the 1960s, it was mixed in with parcels of rhodolite garnets from the Umba River Valley in East Africa. In the beginning, many buyers rejected the material, so local miners and dealers gave it the Swahili name of “Malaya”, which translates to “out of the family”. Testing eventually confirmed that this new gem was a mixture of pyrope and spessartite garnet. Its lively color ranges from light to dark pinkish, red, and yellowish orange. After overcoming initial objections, it carved a small, but dedicated niche in the market in the 1980s, particularly in the U.S. Today, umbalite is one of the more expensive garnets and its only known sources are Kenya and Tanzania.

Umbalite Polished
Umbalite Classification
Common Name Umbalite
Species Garnet
Umbalite Optical Properties
Transparency Opaque-Transparent
Dispersion Strength: Moderate Fire Value: 0.022
Refractive Index Over The Limit 1.730-1.820
Optic Character NA
Optic Sign NA
Polariscope Reaction Anomalous Double Refraction (ADR), Singly Refractive (SR)
Fluorescence SWUV: Inert
LWUV: Inert
Pleochroism None
Umbalite Characteristic Physical Properties
Hardness 7-7.5
Streak None
Toughness Good
Inclusions Quartz is frequently found but apatite, graphite, rutile crystals and needles, sulfides, inclusions similar to fingerprints, growth tubes, and negative crystals may also occur.
Luster Vitreous
Fracture Conchoidal, Uneven
Cleavage None
Umbalite Chemistry & Crystallography
Chemical Name Magnesium Iron Manganese Aluminum Silicate
Chemical Formula (Mg,Fe, Mn)3Al2(SiO4)3
Crystal System Cubic
Chemistry Classification Silicate

Umbalite Colors

  • Brown Umbalite Brown
  • Purple Umbalite Purple
  • Pink Umbalite Pink
  • Red Umbalite Red

Alternate Names

Malaya (Malaia) garnet

Countries of Origin

Tanzania, United Republic Of


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Tim Matthews


Tim Matthews

Tim Matthews is President and Chief Executive Officer of Jewelry Television® (JTV), as well as a member of the company's Board of Directors. He oversees and leads all aspects of the company's powerful omni-digital retail platform that uniquely specializes in fine jewelry and gemstones. His passion for business and gemstones has led him to become a recognized expert in the field of gemology. He is a life member of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A) and has earned Gem-A's highest degrees, the Gemmology (FGA) and Diamond (DGA) diplomas. He is also a Graduate Gemologist (GG) of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and has also completed GIA's Graduate Diplomas in Diamonds, Colored Stones and Pearls. Under his leadership, JTV has become the leader in the sourcing and selling of color gemstones and jewelry.

This page was created on June 27, 2014.

This page was last edited on October 24, 2019.