Tsavorite is part of the Garnet species known as Grossular and is the birthstone of January. Tsavorites can also be called Tsavolite, as the name Tsavorite came much after the discovery of the gemstone when Henry Platt, ex-president of Tiffany & Co., proposed the name to suit the American tongue.
History & Lore
Tsavolite is the original name of Tsavorite, with Tsavo being a reference to Tsavo East National Park where the gemstone is first discovered and lite being the Greek word for stone. Tsavorite is a very rare gemstone, with most faceted stones found under 2 cts. Tsavorites above 2 cts are already hard to come by, even more so for 5 cts and bigger.
One of the biggest Tsavorite rough unearthed is a 925 cts beautiful crystal which yielded the biggest faceted tsavorite, weighing a huge 325.14 cts. This impressive Tsavorite has also good clarity and is valued at over USD 2 million.
The most desired Tsavorite colour is a deep green, emerald-like colour or a brighter, lighter toned green. Less saturated stones are known as mint garnets instead of Tsavorite, with an increasingly popular variety known as the ‘Merelani Garnet’. The prices of Tsavorites have been going up for years and roughs at the Arusha market are becoming increasingly expensive. This increase of price and demand on the market has been credited to the successful marketing by large jewellery houses such as Tiffany & Co.
Tsavorites are often clean gemstones, they are also durable and can be set into difficult settings such as the invisible setting, which cannot be done for other green gems like Emeralds. When buying a Tsavorite, a clean stone is often expected, unless the stone is in large sizes. Tsavorites are mostly faceted because the gems are relatively clean and produces good brilliance when cut. It is known as an alternative for Emeralds.
Tsavorites are mostly found in Africa, though some are found in small deposits in other countries. Tsavorites from different origins generally go for similar prices if all other factors stay constant. Tsavorites are also estimated to be 200 times rarer than Emeralds and has a colour comparable to Emeralds, but with clarity that far surpasses them.
Tsavorite has no known treatment methods, so almost all Tsavorites found on the market will be natural.
Imitations using glass and other materials are still produced although synthetic Tsavorites have not been made.
With a Mohs scale rating of 7-7.5, Tsavorites are durable gemstones for jewellery as long as it is treated with care, as required by any gemstone, to prevent against scratching and hard knocks. Like many Garnets, Tsavorites can make great engagement rings without compromising on having protective settings. The cleaning of Tsavorites should be done with warm soapy water and a soft brush. Tsavorites should not be exposed to strong heat, strong light, or cleaned with machines like ultrasonic machines.