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Tsavorite, also occasionally called tsavolite is a type of grossular garnet. It is a calcium-aluminium garnet with the chemical formula Ca3Al2(SiO4)3. [1] and derives its color from chemical impurities of chromium and / or vanadium.

From Tsavo Plains, Tanzania. 0.9 x 0.7 x 0.4cm.
Photo by Rob Lavinsky,; image lic. under CC-BY-SA-3.0

A recent discovery in the world of gemstones, tsavorite was first discovered in 1967 by Campbell R. Bridges in Tanzania. According to legend, Bridges was charged by an angry buffalo which forced him to take cover in a gully, in which he first spotted the sparkling green stones. The stones found were of very fine color and transparency and Bridges said of them "Of all the green stones, tsavorite is the truest green... A well-cut stone is remarkably bright and sparkling - much more than an emerald." [2] However despite interest from the gem trade, it was not possible for permits to be obtained to export the stones. [1]

Persisting in his work, Bridges looked to neighboring Kenya as he believed that the geological structure that yielded the gems would extend into that region. Aided by aerial surveying, in 1971 he found the gem in Kenya and obtained permission to mine. [1]

Tsavorite is a very rare stone - said to be 200 times more rare than emerald. [3] It is also generally agreed to be more brilliant and more intensely colored. Tsavorite has only been found at gem quality in Tanzania (1 location - Arusha), Kenya (2 locations (Tsavo National Park and Lokirima in the northwest) and Madagascar (Tuléar Province). [4]

Although uncommon in sizes over 1 carat, large tsavorites are occasionally found: A 325-carat clean tsavorite, valued at over 2 million dollars, was cut from a fist-sized 925 gram rough tsavorite found in Tanzania in 2006 at 160 metres depth. Thought to be the largest clean tsavorite in the world, this remarkable gemstone was oval cut and is over 4.2cm across. [3]

It is said that tsavorite sources may run out and lead to a spiralling increase in prices. [3] However, there is of course always the possibility that new sources may be found - and if a great quantity is discovered, this could cause prices to drop.

Tsavorite Prices

Looking around online, (Sept 2010), fine quality tsavorite seems to be retailing in the price range of around $700 for a 1 carat stone, $2500 for a 2 carat stone, $5,000-$7,000 for a 3 carat stone and $17,000 for a 5 carat stone. It's said that the best tsavorite can reach prices as high as $8,000 per carat. [5] Included tsavorites or those of less intense / paler color may be seen for sale at around $1400 for a 4 carat stone.

Sadly the discoverer of tsavorite, Campbell Bridges, who had been awarded a lifetime achievement award by the gemstone industry, was attacked by a mob and killed in Kenya in 2009. It is thought that this tragedy was connected to a dispute over illegal gemstone mines on his land. [6] Obituaries for Bridges described him as being "an inspiration" who contributed greatly to the world of colored gemstones and lived a "buccaneering life" which was "a heady mix of risk and reward." [2]

From Merelani Hills, Tanzania. 0.9 x 0.6 x 0.6cm in size.
Photo by Rob Lavinsky,; image lic. under CC-BY-SA-3.0

Tsavorite - Sources Referenced:


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