Tsavorite garnet is a stone that is very commonly used by jewellers but is lesser known to jewellery consumers and often mistaken for Emerald. It certainly has Emerald like qualities about it and ideally the best Tsavorites are said to be Emerald green in colour. But there are subtle differences in the two gemstones and Tsavorite is proving to be a strong contender as a quality supplement to the highly sought after Emerald.
Part of the Tsavorites appeal is its highly refractive index which gives it more brilliance than an Emerald. Another wonderful aspect for those looking for untreated gems is that it is 0’natural meaning it is always untreated unlike the Emerald. In comparison most Emeralds are heavily included more so than that of many other gemstones and it is estimated 95 – 99% of all Emeralds are treated in some way to improve their clarity thus improving the passage of light within the stone giving them more luminosity. Thus a treatments purpose is to make the Jardin, the French term for Garden, which refers to the tiny natural internal fissures more pleasing to the eye. These treatments also work on the surface fissures or cracks creating lovely looking inclusions. Unless you are an experienced Emerald buyer it can be hard to know what treatments have been used on Emeralds and there are several methods of Emerald treatment some of which are controversial. Cedar wood oil the most widely practised form of treatment and accepted method of Emerald enhancement, and has been for at least four decades. This treatment was originally used by the Greeks decades ago. Cedar wood oil which is not permanent is a natural product which is colourless and viscous meaning when it solidifies it doesn’t easily leak from the its location in the stone. But over time, long periods of time that is, the oil may gradually evaporate and the stone will need to be retreated, respectively this can be a fairly simple process. Carats Emerald sources thankfully share the same high quality in their products as we do and all our stones are naturally treated.
Back to the distinguishing qualities of Tsavorites and Emeralds though. The following statement may sound a little contradictory but believe us when we say it makes perfect sense. For starters the comparison in hardness of both stones is pretty close, with Emeralds being between 7.5 and 8 on the Mohs scale, but they are considerably more sensitive than Tsavorite which has a hardness of 7.5 Mohs. Tsavorites are therefore not as hard as an Emerald but are considerably more durable for everyday wear, being less prone to breaking due to the lack thereof inclusions and fractures that most Emeralds inevitably have.
Tsavorite was first discovered in Tanzania in North East Africa in 1967 by Scottish geologist Campbell R Bridges. Campbell is thought to be the foremost geologist, miner and gemstone dealer of our time and is noted as having also discovered Tanzanite and was the first to bring it from East Africa to the West. Campbell soon discovered the potato shaped rock was in fact a green grossular garnet which is a calcium aluminium silicate. Tsavorites intense rich green colour comes from the presence of mainly Vanadium and sometimes Chromium and the Grossularite is a rare member of the garnet family, making it the most expensive of all garnets with prices similar to Demantoid garnet. It is only found in one other place and that is in the Toliara Province in Madagascar. Even rarer is it to find Tsavorite larger than 3 carats with most gems being 1 carat or smaller, making large Tsavorites rarer than large Emeralds. Therefore large specimens in top chrome green colour can fetch a hefty price tag. The largest Tsavorite sold was 15.41 carats. At Carats we have such a rare large specimen, set in Platinum we have a fabulous cushion cut 6.3 carat Tsavorite ring, it is surrounded by a Halo of diamonds diamond set shoulders and diamond side heart motifs.
At the time of Campbells discovery, he was unable to export his rare find as there was political upheaval with the Tanzanian government and soon afterwards they nationalised all local mines. Not wanting to give up Campbell estimated the same seam would flow over the mountains into neighbouring Kenya, and in 1970 he rediscovered it after searching for a year in the Tsavo National Park near Mount Kilimanjaro. Campbell was granted a permit to export after registering the deposit and subsequently established Scorpion Mine where he and his wife lived in a tree house that kept them safe from predatory wild animals. He also protected his mined gems from thieves using a pet python as the locals were superstitious and petrified of pythons. Campbell had already established a network of buyers of his gems over the years and one such company Tiffany & Co took a great deal of interest in this newly discovered gem and decided to implement it into their latest collection, thus making it very popular in 1974. That same year Henry Platt, who was the then president of Tiffany & Co, and Campbell can both be attributed with naming this new gem Tsavorite after the Tsavo National Park where it was first mined from. Sadly Campbell and his son were attacked in 2009 at his Scorpion Mine and he was murdered by locals who had been disputing his claim rights over the past few years. He was aged 71 when he died.
With its fantastic brilliant coloured green, you can easily see why Tsavorite is becoming a big contender for those looking for that Emerald look. We have many pieces of jewellery we use Tsavorite in, you can see just some of them here but why not pop in to see what else we have used this magnificent gem in