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Home Precious stones Tsavorite


tsavoritTsavorite (also, tsavolite) is one of the jewelry varieties of grossular Ca3Al2[SiO4]3, a mineral of the garnet group. Its main feature is a rich, very bright green color that is due to the presence of vanadium. The main jewelry shades of this stone are green, light-green, and yellow-green.

Tsavorite’s way to glory was quite rough. In Zimbabwe in 1961, British geologist Campbell Bridges came across a deposit of wonderful, clear green stones. The analysis showed they were grossulars. Their quality was enough to use them for jewelry, but they were very few of them. But Bridges was persistent and in 1967, he found larger deposits of the mineral in Tanzania. As the deposit was near the place where the first tanzanites were found, the geologist asked Tiffany’s to promote the new gem, hoping it would repeat the destiny of its predecessor.

The head of Tiffany’s, Henry Platt, simply asked Bridges how many gems of one to two carats he would able to provide each month, as well as how many stones over three carats. Obviously, the geologist could not guarantee the volume required, so he only answered that when regular mining started, he would be able to provide a certain quantity of such stones. But the strict business logic of Tiffany’s did not allow such risky investments, even with an exceptionally beautiful stone, and so Bridges was denied.

At the same time, Tanzania started courting the Soviet Union. Back then, the USSR was strong and powerful, so such a friendship could be quite profitable. As a result, the deposits of tanzanite were nationalized, and Bridges left the country that seemed so unsafe for business. But he did not drop the idea of finding more tsavorite. He found his luck in Kenya, where much richer deposits of green grossular were found.

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Bridges got invaluable help from, of all things, termites. He knew that these hard-working insects, when looking for water, would dig deep, underground tunnels, often going down for dozens of meters and bringing up the splinters of rock. The scientist started by checking the termite mounds, where he did indeed find deposits of tsavorites. He passed them through a study of the deposit in order to define its cost efficiently. Bridges' wife Jane helped him greatly, and it was she who found the first large sample of green grossular.

After this, Tiffany’s was seriously interested in the new finding and started to invest in it. But every new piece of merchandise needs a name. The same Henry Platt who coined tanzanite also christened the Kenyan beauty. After having studied with Bridges the map of Kenya, looking for appropriate names, he finally chose a word based upon the name of one of the largest national parks in Africa, Tsavo, situated near the deposit. In 1974, the promotional campaign for tsavorite started in American magazines and newspapers, with the gem advertised as the rising jewelry star.

Natural tsavorite is very bright; it is the greenest of all green stones. Tsavorite looks as if it reflects all the wildness of African jungle after the rain season. Moreover, unlike its neighbor tanzanite, tsavorite does not require any enhancement. It is often used as a substitute for emerald, as the stone has a number of advantages: tsavorite is much tougher, it does not require so much care as the delicate emerald, it does not change its hue when being processed, and contains fewer inclusions.

Large crystals are rare; they have cracks and many inclusions. As a rule on the market, tsavorite is usually represented by stones up to a carat or two, and three is already a huge luck—there is, however, a cut stone weighing 14 carats! However, a quality one-carat gem may cost $3,000-5,000, which is more than a similar in quality demantoid. Even small tsavorites are valuable because of their exceptionally bright color, and they are more expensive than similar emeralds. Tsavorites are used for coating of complex jewelry pieces; these stones are perfect when one needs to create a rich, fresh green background.

Considerable quantities of tsavorite come only from Kenya; Tanzania supplies a bit, too, and very small batches of this gem come from Canada. Kenyan stone virtually never occurs in the crystals; usually, it is found in the form of small constellations in the mother rock. Mining is done only during four months out of the year, as the rest of the year is the rain season. It is very difficult to mine tsavorite because there is no specific deposit; the lode is washed away and scattered. Moreover, the government of Kenya is constantly issues mining limitation laws. Additionally, the situation in Kenya is far from stable since the 1990s. The representatives of such tribes as the Maasai and Kalenjin, which are in power, now conduct ethnic cleansing, and so the country is overflowed with hundreds of refugees whose needs the government completely ignores because they are not from these tribes. This is one of many examples of how political strife can affect the economy; if the conflict passes to the open phase, then the price of tsavorite may soar.

Шишечки этих сережек обсыпаны мелкими тсаворитамиШишечки этих сережек обсыпаны мелкими тсаворитами A tsavorite braceletA tsavorite bracelet Огромное кольцо  из семи жемчужин, обсыпанное тсаворитамиОгромное кольцо из семи жемчужин, обсыпанное тсаворитами

Green grossular from Quebec, also called “tsavorite” by the sellers, occurs in the form of perfect crystals that are appropriate for garnets and often forms druses. The color of Quebecois gems is an awesome bright green. Canadian tsavorite is much more decorative than its African counterpart, but its crystals are too small to be cut, and the deposits are scarce to begin with. The reason tsavorite is so rare is that the unique geologic conditions needed for its forming simply aren’t present in many areas throughout the world.

It is said that green grossular occurs in the Urals as well. But it is not considered tsavorite, though its color is comparable to the Kenyan stones. On the other hand, Ural crystals are too small to be cut and quite opaque; most probably, it is not tsavorite but uvarovite.

Another unique feature of tsavorite is the fact that its price will never fall, even if new deposits are discovered. Moreover, growing supply will bring forth bigger demand, which, subsequently, will take the prices even higher. This is because when tsavorite is found in a place like Madagasar, for instance, the state treasury simply must have it.

Brand companies do not like tsavorite much because it is rare and small, even though the wearing of this stone tells about the quite sophisticated taste of its owner. Large companies, on the contrary, look for the mass merchandise, even though this usually means that the tastes of those who buy from them are quite average. But when it comes to exclusive pieces of jewelry, especially complex ones with lots of stones of different colors, tsavorite finds its home because it is so very bright.