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Tsavorite or Green Garnet, the Undiscovered Gem

by Andrea Van Wilgenburg

One of the more rare garnets and less well known is the green Tsavorite garnet. Tsavorite garnet is one of the most beautiful and vibrant of gemstones. The color can range from a fresh mint green to a deep forest green. One of my favorite green garnet hues is the neon medium green color seen in very few pieces.

The tsavorite measures 7 to 7.5 in hardness on the Mohs scale, so it makes a fine gemstone for a lasting piece of jewelry. Tsavorite garnet is a type II gemstone, which means the conditions in which Tsavorites are formed in nature are not always favorable, so inclusions are common in pieces over 1 carat.

Like most gemstones, garnet has borrowed its name from a Latin word “granum”, which means grain. The “Tsavorite” name comes from Tsavo Park in Kenya; one of the biggest sources of tsavorite garnet. The first finding of green garnet was made in Zimbabwe, 1961 followed by more significant findings in Tanzania, and Kenya. Most findings are of relatively small production and somewhat sporadic.

Approximately 85% of material mined yields stones under one carat, 10% yield stones above one carat, 2.5% over two, 1% over three. Based on this information, prices for large size Tsavorites can increase quite dramatically.

Considering the Tsavorite’s limited supply and rarity, tsavorite prices are extremely low when compared to most gemstones and particularly emeralds. Despite being more rare and having some physical properties that are more desirable than emeralds, tsavorite garnets cost only a fraction of emeralds.

I believe tsavorite is a great choice as a gemstone for a fine piece of jewelry. They are a durable, bright, and a well saturated stone. Not to mention, tsavorites are one of the few gemstones on the market that do not typically receive some sort of treatment such as oil or heat treatment commonly used in certain gemstones

Despite all of the wonderful properties of green garnets, few people have ever heard about tsavorite garnets since there is a lack of exposure and promotion. Indeed marketing a relatively new gemstone could be quite an expensive undertaking, and it could take many years to see results.

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