Tsavorite History

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Tsavorite Garnets

The green species of garnet was discovered in 1967 by British geologist Cambell R. Bridges in the bush along the frontier between Kenya and Tanzania, where he found potato-shaped stones containing beautiful green crystals. Tsavorite (or tsavolite) garnet is named after its occurrence near the famous Tsavo National Park in Kenya. Tsavorite is only found in these two countries, though the most important deposits are the ones in Kenya.

Though the name tsavorite looks like a gemological name, it is actually a marketing name. The name was proposed by Henry Platt, then president of Tiffany & Co., when the gem was first first discovered in East Africa in 1967. The name is derived from Tsavo National Park in Kenya. Platt, a great-grandson of Louis Comfort Tiffany, was also the source for the name tanzanite for blue zoisite.

What is special about tsavorite is that it is colored by trace amounts of chromium or vanadium, giving it that distinctive emerald-like green. Its vivid color and its extreme rarity caused a lot of excitement in the gem world, helped along by some promotion from Tiffany & Co.

Large tsavorites are extremely rare and much rarer than large emeralds. Miners estimate that 85% of the material mined yields gems under 1 carat, while 10% yields stone above one carat and only 2.5% yields stones over two carats, and 1% stones over 3 carats. Thus far tsavorite deposits have only been found in Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa, and more recently (1991) in Madagascar.

When buying tsavorite, look for an intense vibrant green color. Like emerald, tsavorite can be green/blue or green/yellow. You want to avoid gems that look like peridot (yellowish green) or stones that are too dark in tone (greenish black).

Natural Tsavorite Garnet Gems

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