Also known as the King of Green Gemstones, the Tsavorite is a member of the colourful Garnet Family of Gemstones.
It is also one of the most popular and expensive varieties of green garnets – its sister-stone being the green Demantoid Garnet – whose price is determined by carat size; example, stones up to one carat are common, therefore cheaper, whereas pieces over 2 carats, being rare, the price jumps dramatically and those with that deep green emerald-like colour will fetch the highest prices.
In terms of age or comparison with many other gemstones, the Tsavorite is a NEW or YOUNG stone – only 52 years this year since its discovery by Scottish geologist Campbell Bridges first in Tanzania and later in Kenya in 1967 – but in geological terms or gem history it is a very OLD stone whose formation began millions of years ago, even before dinosaurs walked the earth, when the continents were being compressed into what we know today.
That movement, according to geologists, combined with high temperatures and tremendous pressure so damaged the early formation of the Tsavorite that today only fragments, usually no larger than 5 carats, have been discovered. And, to compound the problem of scarcity, the Tsavorite garnet has been found in only one place in the world on the bush-land border of Kenya and Tanzania in Africa.
Tsavorite colour is green, all shades of green from bright yellowish-green to deep green or bluish-green to various shades of green – grass green, natural green, vivid green, emerald green – with the most desirable colour being a fresh, vivid, brilliant emerald green that can easily rival that of the Emerald, which accounts for Tsavorite often being mistakenly identified as an Emerald. As well as colour, though, there are distinct differences between these 2 beautiful gemstones: (1) the Tsavorite is a natural stone, never treated or heated in any way whereas the Emerald is routinely oiled and sometimes glass filled; (2) Tsavorite is more durable than an Emerald that chips easily;
(3) Tsavorite being rare – 200 times rarer than an Emerald – and scarce – having one only location – is more valuable than an Emerald yet sells for about 1/4 the cost of the Emerald; (4) having a higher refractive index, a Tsavorite has a greater brilliance than an Emerald; (5) a Tsavorite sparkles while the Emerald is dull needing polishing; (6) the Tsavorite is more robust than the Emerald meaning it won’t easily splinter or crack when being set or worn; (7) a Tsavorite is a Garnet; an Emerald is a Beryl, so no connection at all. In terms of hardness – the Mohs Scale – they are both about the same: Emerald 7.5-8; Tsavorite 7-7.5 but the Tsavorite being the more durable of the two is the better choice for a ring, even an engagement ring because of its value and scarcity.
True Story of the Tsavorite’s Discovery
As I said above, the year was 1967 when Campbell Bridges was prospecting in Zimbabwe where he saw a range of hills with geological characteristics he had never before seen. So intent was he in his examination or observation of those hills that he forgot to look down or at the surrounding area. where, on one side, there was a steep ravine.
What happened next was sheer chance or the subject of a good film: a large Cape Buffalo charged out of the bush forcing Bridges to leap into the ravine to save his life. The ravine, fortunately, was too steep for the buffalo to follow so Bridges started walking along the bottom of the ravine, while the buffalo followed him on the top ridge. Continuing his prospecting he eventually arrived at the range of hills with the unique geology that had so preoccupied him he didn’t see the buffalo.
There, he saw a flashing green glint, the likes of which he had never seen before. He removed a sample and thus was the first known discovery of Tsavorite so named for Tsavo National Park in Kenya. This was Bridges’ choice for the beautiful green garnet to honour Kenya for taking him in, being good to him, and allowing him to make his home there. Would you not agree with me that this is the stuff of novels and movies that could easily rival any of the Indiana Jones movies? If yes, and you have a bent for writing and/or a dream of becoming a script writer, the discovery of the Tsavorite Garnet could be your ticket to fame and fortune, and it’s all true.
Garnet is the birthstone for January; the zodiacal stone for Aquarius, and the second wedding anniversary stone. That gorgeous green color of the Tsavorite could also easily make it the zodiacal stone for Cancer or a substitute for the Emerald, May’s birthstone given its colour likeness to the Emerald. Also, where January’s birthstone is concerned, the Tsavorite, also being a garnet, would be another birthstone choice because no one ever said it had to be the red variety of garnet. Or, if you’re creative why not put the two together in a piece uniquely yours?
Myths and beliefs
With Tsavorite being a YOUNG stone, only 52 years old making it, in geological terms, a mere infant, we cannot really expect there to be many myths associated with it. That assumption, however, might well be wrong for there are those who claim the Tsavorite does indeed have certain powers, i.e.providing the wearer with strength, vitality, and a positive rather than negative disposition or attitude. Additionally, there is the belief that the Tsavorite has the power to aid, support, or improve one’s immune system; respiration, metabolism, and detoxification. And, in the HIndu traditional belief systems, the Tsavorite is associated with Anahata, the heart chakra, that relates to love, compassion, decision making, and psychic healing.
That the Tsavorite is a Garnet, we can also include myths and beliefs associated with the Garnet: (1) it is the perfect stone if one wants to succeed in business; (2) it encourages compassion and self-confidence; (3) has the ability to heal the blood and improve circulation, and (4) has long been thought of as ‘a traveler’s stone’ and myth has it that the biblical Noah (Noah’s Ark) used a garnet lantern to help navigate the Ark during the night.
For more information or just the eye candy experience of seeing this beautiful Tsavorite Garnet in person, and having your personal, unique design created by LL Private Jewellers or please call us at 604-684-6343