Tsavorite

History
This is a relatively young member of the garnet family, discovered only in 1967 by the British geologist, Campbell R. Bridges. The stone was named after Kenya’s Tsavo National Park, near the border with Tanzania, and the River Tsavo, which flows from the Tanzanian border through Kenya. Bridges first sighted the stone on the Tanzanian side, but encountered great difficulties with the authorities when applying to mine and export it. With much perseverance and dedication he continued his search for more deposits on the Kenyan side of the border, firmly believing that there was a gemstone belt beneath the surface (a result of prehistoric continental drifting) containing more of these intriguing green gems. His efforts were finally rewarded in 1971 when he discovered more tsavorite deposits in Kenya’s Taita/Taveta district. Following this second discovery, Bridges was finally granted the necessary permit and opened the first tsavorite mine. He was tragically killed by a mob during a mining dispute near the town of Voi, close to the Tsavo National Park, in August 2009.

 

Until 1974 tsavorite remained essentially a gemstone for connoisseurs. It was only when Tiffany’s took great interest in the gem and launched a major advertising campaign that this green beauty acquired enhanced popularity.

 

Colour
Tsavorite may on occasion be confused with emerald, its deep forest green playing tricks on the eyes. However, it usually occurs in lighter, fresher shades of green, calling to mind young spring grass. Specimens of an intense blue-green hue have also been found, although this is less common.

 

Gemmological Properties
Tsavorite is a member of the garnet family rich in calcium and aluminium. The gem’s green colouration is a result of traces of vanadium or chromium blended into its original structure. Refreshingly, this gem has never been exposed to any chemical treatment or heating. It is known only in its completely natural state.

 

Mining Areas
Other than on five sites in Tanzania and Kenya, tsavorite has only been found in Madagascar. To this day it remains one of Mother Nature’s incredibly rare jewels.