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Tsavorite Gemstone Guide


Tsavorite, pronounced "suh-vor-uht," is a green gemstone. It is part of the garnet family and is sometimes referred to as tsavorite garnet. Out of all the stones in the garnet category, the tsavorite stone is quite rare. The tsavorite garnet's origin dates only to 1967 when it was discovered in the Tsavo National Park in Kenya. In fact, the former president of Tiffany & Co. derived the name tsavorite from Tsavo National Park. This beautiful green gem quickly became a sought-after alternative to emeralds as it is typically more durable and vibrant.


Today, it is still sourced from only one part of the world, where it is mined in Kenya, Madagascar, and Tanzania. Like other garnets, it is composed of calcium and aluminum. However, vanadium and chromium traces give it its lush green color. In the United States, those born in January may choose the tsavorite gemstone as their birthstone instead of the traditional red garnet. May birthdays may favor a green tsavorite over the classic emerald. Green is also the color for a couple's twenty-second wedding anniversary, making a tsavorite ring or earrings a suitable choice. Tsavorite doesn't have historical folklore associated with it due to its recent discovery. Still, its bright green is most associated with the earth's natural beauty, fertility, and energy.


When choosing tsavorite, it is essential to pay attention to the 4C's, referring to cut, color, clarity, and carat, as this gem can come in various colors, shapes, and sizes.

Tsavorite Shapes


When talking about shapes, you are referring to the cut. Though you can find this gem in many different shapes, there are a few more common cuts. Ovals tend to be the most popular for jewelry like tsavorite earrings and tsavorite rings. With this shape, the stones appear larger and extra brilliant because the facets tend to be more condensed than in other cuts. In general, tsavorite has a high refractive index, making them sparkle with almost any cut. Due to this, you can find a tsavorite green garnet in an emerald, marquise, round, pear, or trillion shape. However, square cushion and round shapes are least preferred by cutters. These shapes are not easy to obtain from the gem's rough form and result in considerable weight loss when cutting. The high amount of waste resulting from some cuts can inflate their price.


Tsavorite Sizes


Most of these green gems are cut to specifications according to the desired shape. A cutter will try to balance the weight and proportion of the stone in order to maximize its size. They do this because many of the extracted tsavorites are not big. It is a rarity to find a tsavorite in a large size. The biggest one, in a cushion cut, was unveiled in 2019 and came in at 116.76 ct; but three carats or less are much more common. The finest tsavorites are usually under 1 carat, and many jewelers only carry stones in small sizes. When considering the annual extraction of tsavorite, rough stones at two carats or greater account for only 2.4%.


Larger stones do cost more, but you will usually notice the most significant jump in price when looking at quality instead of size. Remember, a cutter's goal is to reduce waste and maintain weight, but you should not value size over clarity or color.


Tsavorite Colors


Most value the color of tsavorite beyond all other factors. When it comes to tsavorite gemstones, the desired color is a rich green that is intense and vibrant while not being cloudy, dark, or possessing shadows. When comparing tsavorite vs. emerald, you'll notice that tsavorites have more fire (or brilliancy) due to their higher refractive index. Though vibrant greens are preferred, you can find tsavorite gems in a range of hues from pale to dark. Pale gems with yellow undertones are the least preferred, followed by very dark, murky stones.


A cutter can alter tsavorite color somewhat with the cut. Cutters can change the color by varying the transparency achieved. A shallow cut on a dark gem will allow more light to pass through, increasing the vibrancy. Alternatively, a light-colored gem benefits from a deeper cut that increases its saturation. Like other colored stones, experts may measure the tsavorite using the GIA color grading system based on saturation and tone. Tsavorites in the saturation and tone range of 5-6 are considered top quality.

The ever-popular yellow gold or white gold are great setting options for tsavorite. Its lush green color is complemented both by the cool hues of white gold and the warm tones of yellow. Nearly all tsavorite stones don't require a protective setting, making them a popular pick for engagement rings. Additionally, its hardness allows it to age well in various pieces


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Tsavorite Clarity


As a type 2 gemstone, tsavorites are usually included, making flaws and inclusions somewhat common. Their geology can make them prone to having needle-like impurities, tiny feathers, and crystals included in their mass. Tsavorite's transparencies mean inclusions are better able to be seen by the naked eye. When choosing a gem for your tsavorite jewelry, it's essential to pick an eye-clean stone (or as close as possible), which means it is free from apparent inclusions. Inclusions make a tsavorite less valuable, and you should avoid gems with surface defects and visible inclusions entirely.


Tsavorite Sourcing


Tsavorites are relatively new to the world of gemstones, having been discovered in the late 1960s by gemologist Campbell Bridges. It wasn't formally introduced until 1974. They are only found in a single part of the world – Africa. Tsavorites are most readily found in the mines on Kenya and Tanzania's border. Still, they are also sourced from Zimbabwe and Madagascar, though these locales generally produce smaller gems. Their rarity increases their value.


Tsavorite Certification


Most colored gemstones are not certified due to the lack of a standardized certification practice and grading scale. Tsavorite quality is based on a variety of factors. Many of these gems are evaluated by the naked eye. However, microscopic evaluation can help determine the quality and authenticity of your stone.


Your tsavorite is likely natural if you notice inclusions, especially needle-like ones. Green glass can be used to create unnatural faux tsavorites, and many of these will possess bubble-like inclusions. Tsavorite has never been synthesized in a lab. Natural stones that are clean to the eye are considered acceptable quality, even if they have imperfections visible through a microscope.


Tsavorite Treatments


Tsavorite is considered one of the most authentic and "honest" stones in today's jewelry market. The color of your stone is all-natural and not created using any treatment such as heating or oiling. The fact that tsavorites are devoid of any treatments and completely natural can make them more desirable to some. But, it does increase the necessity to find eye-clean stones with a balanced tone and saturation for your jewelry.


Tsavorite Buying Guide


There is no standard grading system for tsavorite, making it more challenging to choose a stone. We recommend you consider these points


Budget First. Tsavorites are rare and can be pretty valuable. Therefore, it is vital to decide on a budget and stick to it. Remember, you're evaluating the stone's color and clarity, not size. While these stones aren't as well-known as other precious stones, they're at least 100 times rarer than emerald and one of the most expensive garnets available.


Select a Shape. The shape of your tsavorite ring is a significant consideration. Ovals are the most popular as this shape can enhance the gem's appearance, though you can find tsavorite in nearly every shape. Cushion and round cuts produce a large amount of rough waste, making them more expensive/valuable.


Select a Size. It isn't easy to find large tsavorites. Like diamonds, tsavorites are measured in carats. Stones weighing one carat or less are common, while two carats or more are rare. Tsavorites that are two carats (or higher) will be significantly more expensive.


Quality Above All Else. For most buyers, color is most important, followed by clarity when selecting a tsavorite. You may want to use the GIA color grading system to evaluate the quality of your tsavorite gem, looking for a stone with a saturation and tone rating of 5-6. Don't choose solely based on size; evaluate the stone's brilliance, lack of inclusions, and overall color.


In-Store or Online? Tsavorites can be found online or in-store. Regardless of where you purchase, be sure to review the seller's return policy. Because tsavorites are relatively rare, it may be challenging to find them in-store. However, shopping in person allows you to assess the size and color of the gem more accurately. Still, online shoppers often get to pick from a more comprehensive selection and can have more flexibility with their choice. Don't be afraid to ask your jeweler about their practices and policies and request pictures if you're shopping online.


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FAQs

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