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Article: Before the Dinosaurs walked the Earth, there was Tsavorite

history of tsavorite

Before the Dinosaurs walked the Earth, there was Tsavorite

Tiffany tsavorite cuff

When it comes to gemstones, diamonds, sapphires & rubies often steal the spotlight. However, there is one gem that stands out from the rest  – Tsavorite. This vibrant green gemstone is not only incredibly beautiful, but it is also the world's most expensive garnet. Introduced by Tiffany's to the fine jewellery world (pictured is a tsavorite cuff from their 2017 blue book catalogue), it has become a gemstone worthy of acquisition to any jewellery collection.


 Before the Dinosaurs walked, there was Tsavorite

Tsavorite is a variety of the mineral grossular, which belongs to the garnet family. It formed even before dinosaurs trod the earth with its beautiful green colour being the result of the trace elements: vanadium and chromium. Tsavorite garnet is formed deep within the Earth’s crust, under intense pressure and heat. It’s usually found in metamorphic rocks, such as schist and gneiss, which form when existing rocks are altered by heat and pressure. The deposits of Tsavorite garnet are located mainly in East Africa, specifically in Tanzania and Kenya, where the gemstone was first discovered. Despite Tsavorite being formed millions of years ago it has only recently been discovered and promoted in the jewellery industry in the last 50 years.
It was first discovered in the 1960s by British geologist Campbell Bridges in Tanzania. The gemstone gets its name from the Tsavo National Park in Kenya, which is located near the border of Tanzania. Though Tsavorite is found in both Tanzania and Kenya, the very finest gemstones, with the purest green hues is still only found in Kenya.
The stones Bridges found were of very intense colour and of high transparency. That find interested the gem trade, and attempts were made to export the stones, but the Tanzanian government did not provide permits.
Some years later he did manage to get permits and in 1974 it drew the interest of Tiffany & Co who embarked on a marketing campaign to introduce Tsavorite to the world. 

The Rolls Royce of the Green at Cadillac prices 

Harry Platt of Tiffany & Company (New York) who immediately recognised its potential due to its gemological pedigree and its reasonable prices compared to emerald for a somewhat superior gemstone, set about gaining recognition for this rarity through statement pieces promoted in their annual Blue Book. 
Unfortunately Bridges was murdered in 2009 when a mob attacked him and his son on their property in Tsavo East National Park. It is believed that the attack was connected to a three-year dispute over access and control of Bridges' gemstone mines although his legacy and connection with Tsavorite still endures today. 

tsavorite rock


Tsavorite is expensive due to its rarity and and small size

This remote, lion roaming bush along the Kenya-Tanzania border,  has a history of violent volcanic activity and due to these volatile geological conditions under which it forms, Tsavorite is only found in relatively small sizes. Stones over 2.5 carats are considered very rare and valuable.  It is estimated that tsavorite is 200 times rarer than emeralds yet does not command emerald prices. . Additionally, tsavorite is known for its exceptional clarity and brilliance, which further adds to its value. Being a garnet, it is much harder than emerald.

Pictured above is a rough tsavorite crystal was mined near Merelani, Tanzania, and weighed more than 283 carats before being shaped into the 177-facet, nearly 117 carat cushion shaped 'Lion of Merelani' now on display in the gem collection at the Smithsonian Institute. 

The birthstone for December

The Garnet family is the birthstone for January and Tsavorite in particular is a stone of benevolence, vitality, prosperity, vigour and compassion.

Tsavorite is truly a gemstone like no other. Its stunning green color, rarity, and exceptional beauty make it the world's most sought after green gems often surpassing emerald for its clarity and durability. It  is a gemstone that deserves your attention. with its timeless beauty and enduring value making it a true treasure to behold.


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