Tsavorite is one of two green varieties of garnet, though arguably the more important of the two. Especially in smaller sizes, tsavorite creates competition for emerald because it is less included, rarely treated, and more durable. Like some emerald and green tourmaline, tsavorite garnet owes its green hues to the presence of vanadium and chromium.
|Warm soapy water and a soft brush are ideal for cleaning tsavorite garnets. Ultrasonic cleaners are usually considered safe for tsavorite, but steam cleaners should be avoided. Tsavorite can fracture when exposed to abrupt, extreme temperature changes.|
|Like other garnets, tsavorite is usually untreated, so its fresh, highly prized colors--ranging from bright yellowish green to deeper grassy greens and even slightly bluish-green shades--is completely natural. |
|Approximately 85% of all tsavorite mined is under one carat, so any tsavorite garnets over that size are very rare and, consequently, more valuable. As is the case with most colored gems, the most valuable tsavorite is a vivid, strongly saturated green or bluish green with, according to GIA's color grading scale, medium to medium-dark tone. In fact, GIA's guidelines dictate that similarly colored garnets with light tones and weak or moderate saturation aren't tsavorite at all but should be called green grossularite garnet. When a rare large tsavorite crystal is found, it is usually visibly included. For this reason, cutters will generally choose size over clarity, which results in a lack of large, clean tsavorite on the market. Typical inclusions in tsavorite are fingerprints and small graphite crystals.|
Tsavorite is named after the Tsavo National Park, on the border of Tanzania and Kenya, where it was discovered and has been mined since the 1970s. Kenya remains the most important source of tsavorite today, though some is found in nearby Tanzania and elsewhere.
ritish geologist Campbell R. Bridges discovered tsavorite in 1967 in Tanzania and, about three years later, in Kenya. In order to be protected from dangerous wildlife in the area, Bridges lived in a treehouse while mining the first viable tsavorite mine in 1974. Later that year, the current president of Tiffany & Co. (along with Bridges) named and introduced the new green gem to the world through The New Yorker and The New York Times.
The largest, cleanest tsavorite on record is a 325.14-carat top-color beauty found near the Block B tanzanite mines near Arusha, Tanzania. Valued at over $2 million, it is one of the largest, most valuable gems ever found in the area. In rough, the uncut crystal weighed 185 grams. The step-cut stone, which has been certified by the GRS GemResearch Swisslab and graded medium tone and strong to vivid saturation by GIA, measures approximately 42mm x 36.5mm x 28mm. The 325-carat-plus gem trumps the previous tsavorite record holder, another oval that weighed 120.68 carats and was found in almost the same spot about a year earlier.
Tsavorite is rarely found in well-formed crystals but more likely in irregular nodules or lumps that miners call "potatoes." Although there are some minor sources in Asia, the East African countries of Tanzania, Kenya, and Madagascar supply most of the world's tsavorite.
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