Tsavorite or tsavolite is a variety of the garnet group species grossular, a calcium-aluminium garnet with the formula Ca3Al2Si3O12. Trace amounts of vanadium or chromium provide the green color.
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In 1967, British gem prospector and geologist Campbell R. Bridges discovered a deposit of green grossular in the mountains of north-east Tanzania in a place called Lemshuko, 15 km away from Komolo, the first village.
The specimens he found were of very intense color and of high transparency. The find interested the gem trade, and attempts were made to export the stones, but the Tanzanian government did not provide permits.
Peter Morgan, founder of Eltons Mining Ltd. and his team were the first to discover commercially viable quantities of the gem, near the Tsavo West National Park. They then formed a group of overseas scientists and dealers to evaluate the gem and advise on how best to market it.
These included two eminent mineral scientists, Prof. Dr. Edward Gubelin from Switzerland and Prof. Dr. Herman Bank from Germany, plus other stalwarts of the gemstone industry. Peter came into the mining industry after he and a partner bought Nairobi’s leading jewellers, Elton’s Jewellers Ltd.
In the presence of some members of this group, Peter Morgan suggested the name Tsavolite. The first part derives from the district in the Taita Taveta province where the gem was discovered, the lite suffix simply refers to the Greek word for stone.
Campbell Bridges also began prospecting in that nation. He was successful a second time in 1971, when he found the mineral variety there, and was granted a permit to mine the deposit.
The gemstone was known only to mineral specialists until 1974. Peter Morgan and Dan Meyer introduced the gem to Harry Platt, the then vice president of New York jewellers Tiffany & Co., who was keen to market Tsavolite.
Unfortunately, the proposed terms and conditions were unacceptable, so the partnership never materialised. However, Harry Platt wrote a complimentary article for the Lapidary Journal, in which he claimed the name Tsavorite. He subsequently insisted that ‘came off the American tongue better’. And so the new name stuck.
Bridges was murdered in 2009 when a mob attacked him and his son on their property in Tsavo East National Park. It is believed that the attack was connected to a three years dispute over access and control of Bridges’ gemstone mines.
Apart from the source locality in Tanzania, it is also found in Toliara (Tuléar) Province, Madagascar. Small deposits of gem grade material have been found in Pakistan and Queen Maud Land, Antarctica. No other occurrences of gem material have yet been discovered.
Rare in gem quality over several carats, It has been found in larger sizes. In late 2006, a 925 carat crystal was discovered. It yielded an oval mixed cut 325 carat stone, one of the largest, if not the largest, faceted gems in the world. A crystal that yielded a 120.68 carat oval mixed cut gem was also uncovered in early 2006.
The stone formed in a Neoproterozoic metamorphic event which involved extensive folding and refolding of rock. This resulted in a wide range of inclusions forming within most crystals. These inclusions are strong identifying features in the nstone.
Sample rough from Kenya
Is tsavorite a precious stone?
This garnet is today one of the rarest and most coveted gemstones in the world. Its mystical forest green color is part of the reason why it has become so famous within just a few years of its discovery. But it is not a classified as precious stone.
What is tsavorite good for?
THe gemstone has been said to enhance fertility, fortify the kidneys, and is beneficial for the membranes and skin. Emotionally, the stone has many attributes as well. It brings strength and confidence, teaches relaxation and inspires service and cooperation.
What is the value of tsavorite?
Prices vary greatly according to size and quality. At the top retail end, they may reach as much as US$8,000 per carat.
Is tsavorite an emerald?
It looks like emerald, but it is an expensive type of garnet. This gem cannot be found anywhere else on earth except for east Africa; Kenya’s Taita and the Arusha region in Tanzania being the primary sources. This makes the gemstones much rarer than emeralds.
Is tsavorite a hard stone?
The stone is a relatively hard stone with a Mohs ranking of 7 to 7.5.
Can tsavorite be lab created?
It has never been synthesized (Lab created), but a number of imitations exist. It is one of the most “honest” of all gems on the market today. It is simply cut, there are no treatments, enhancements or synthetics.
Is tsavorite good for an engagement ring?
It is an uncommon gem and makes for the perfect unconventional engagement ring for an off-beat bride. Besides, it is the best alternative to expensive emeralds. Due to its higher refractive index, The gem exhibits remarkable brilliance, ideal for a glamorous engagement ring.
What does tsavorite garnet do?
The gemstone is believed to heal the heart chakra, increasing zest and vitality and inducing feelings of charity and benevolence. Meditating with this stone is believed to facilitate communication with higher spiritual realms and increases psychic awareness and intuition.
Is tsavorite same as green garnet?
The green colors of garnet overlap, they are different garnet group minerals. Tsavorite is green grossular and demantoid is green andradite. Andradite is softer than grossular but has a higher refractive index and higher dispersion.
How do you clean tsavorite?
To clean the stone, gently scrub it with a soft toothbrush and a solution of mild dish soap and warm water.
Is tsavorite a good investment?
Its rarity makes it a good investment.