Tsavorite Buying Guide
Tsavorite is the name given to the rich green variety of grossular garnet. The gem was first discovered in Tanzania in 1967 by Campbell Bridges. In 1970, Bridges also discovered gem tsavorite in Kenya’s Taita/Taveta district. The name “tsavorite” was coined in 1974 by Campbell Bridges and Tiffany’s Henry Platt and is derived from Kenya’s Tsavo National Park, which lies adjacent to rich deposits of the gem.
While the color of tsavorite never equals that of the finest emerald, an emerald-green is the ideal. The color should be as intense as possible, without being overly dark or yellowish green. The color of tsavorite is believed to be due to vanadium, at times with a trace of chromium.
Tsavorite garnet generally looks best under daylight. Incandescent light makes it appear slightly more yellowish green.
In terms of clarity, tsavorite is relatively clean. Thus when buying one should expect eye-clean or near-eye-clean stones.
In the market, tsavorites are found in a variety of shapes and cutting styles. Ovals and cushions are the most common, but rounds are also seen, as are other shapes, such as emerald cuts, trillions, etc. Cabochon-cut tsavorites are not often seen.
Tsavorite is among the most expensive of all garnets, with prices similar to those fetched by fine demantoid (the other green garnet). But like all gem materials, low-quality (i.e., non-gem quality) pieces may be available for a few dollars per carat. Such stones are generally not clean enough to facet. Prices for tsavorite vary greatly according to size and quality. At the top retail end, they may reach as much as US$8,000 per carat.
Tsavorite is rare in faceted stones above 7–8 cts. Fine tsavorites above 20 carats can be considered world-class pieces. Most stones tend to be less than 3 cts.
The original locality for tsavorite was Kenya’s Tsavo National Park, but today important deposits of gem tsavorite have also been found in Tanzania’s Lindi Province.
Tsavorite is one of the few colored gems that is not normally subject to any type of enhancement.
Tsavorite garnet has never been synthesized, but a number of imitations exist. These include green glass and green YAG. Green glass is also common at the mines in various rough forms.
Properties of Tsavorite Garnet
|Tsavorite Garnet (a variety of grossular garnet)|
|Hardness (Mohs)||7 to 7.5|
|Refractive Index||1.740; Singly refractive|
|Colors||Light to deep green|
|Handling||Ultrasonic: generally safe, but risky if the gem contains liquid inclusions
Steamer: not safe
The best way to care for tsavorite garnet is to clean it with warm, soapy water. Avoid exposing it to heat or acids.