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Introduction to Tsavorite

Asia Lounges demantoid east africa garnet gem gemstome grossular Jeffery L Bergman Natural Gems Tanzania Tsavorite

Hey Loungers,

The gemstone discoveries in East Africa in the 1960s transformed the jewelry world: new varieties, new colors, and new variations on existing species made that decade a most exciting time in the gemstone industry.


Prime example of a Forest Green Tanzanian Tsavorite - Learn more about this gem here.

In 1968 in Tanzania, a magnificent brilliant green grossular garnet was discovered. The beautiful green garnet was also found on the Kenya side of the border in 1971, in the Taita Taveta district. In 1974, the new gem was named "Tsavorite", after the famous Tsavo National Park in Kenya. It is Tiffany & Co, in New York, that introduced the gemstone to the world market soon after.

Tsavorite has a beautiful vivid green color, is bright and lively with a high refractive index, and has a garnet's durability and high clarity. The brilliant green color is most often due to vanadium from the host rock but some tsavorite is also colored by chromium. The heat and folding of the host rock hundreds of millions of years ago which formed tsavorite, also shattered most of the crystals. It is very rare to find tsavorite in sizes larger than five carats, and most faceted stones are below two carats.

Prime example of a minty green tsavorite - Learn more about this gem here.

There have been perhaps 40 different areas where tsavorite has been mined but only four mining ventures are still producing in commercial quantities. Many deposits of tsavorite are small and unpredictable: seams suddenly narrow and disappear giving no indication where to look next. All the mines currently producing are in an arid grassy area with bare dry hills that runs across the border from Kenya to Tanzania. This area is home to many snakes and an occasional lion.

Tsavorite's rarity, as well as its beautiful green color, call to mind the queen of the garnet family, demantoid garnet, which was discovered in Russia's Ural Mountains in 1868. Demantoid was also available mostly in small sizes. Mining of this beautiful, brilliant green garnet lasted about 30 years so today, the only source for top quality stones is antique jewelry.

Perhaps the association with demantoid has helped tsavorite. The rarity of the stone has led jewelers around the world to treat tsavorite as a specialty item, like demantoid garnet. Because of its exceptional clarity, color, brilliance and durability, it has been said that tsavorite is the gem emerald should have been.

See you in the Lounges!

© Jeffery L Bergman, SSEF BGC

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