Natural vs. Synthetic Tsavorite

Tsavorite is a lush green gem quickly becoming one of the most popular garnets. It can range in color from yellow-green to bluish-green. However, the most sought-after is a rich, verdant green. Tsavorite is from the grossular garnet family, composed of calcium-aluminum silicate with traces of vanadium and chromium to create vibrant green color. It was initially discovered in Tanzania in 1967. More was found in the Tsavo National Park in Kenya three years later. Today, the Tanzania/Kenya border is where most Tsavorite hails from.

Tsavorite is 1000 rarer than the most popular green gem, the emerald. However, they are often less expensive than emeralds. Their gorgeous green color pairs well with precious metals and other gemstones. Which makes them fit for all types of jewelry. You can find Tsavorite pendants, rings, and bracelets. With a hardness of 7-7.5 on the Mohs scale, Tsavorite is suitable for most types of fine jewelry.

Natural Tsavorite is considered rare, and it is nearly impossible to find high-quality specimens over five carats. While this isn't an issue for other gems, such as diamonds, that have excellent synthetic versions, the same cannot be said for Tsavorite. To date, Tsavorite has never been synthesized

A gem must have the same chemical makeup as the original to be considered synthetic. Lab-created diamonds are formed with the same materials and processes as natural ones, just in a laboratory. Tsavorite has not yet been created in a lab. However, there are imitations of Tsavorite. These gems or stones have similar appearances but different compositions and qualities. Lower quality tsavorites may be treated to improve their characteristics, though they are still naturally sourced.

Natural Tsavorite vs. Synthetic Tsavorite – What's the difference?

As mentioned, man-made synthetic Tsavorite does not yet exist. So, we will discuss a few of the imitation versions you may come across.

First, you may encounter green glass. This isn't an imitation you should pursue. Green glass is often sold under the guise of being an authentic Tsavorite. However, this imposter is easy to spot. Glass isn't as hard, has a lower refractive index, and is usually less dense. It will often look different and feel different than true gems. Cubic zirconia can also create a Tsavorite look-alike that is slightly harder than an authentic gem.

Another common imitation is Spinel. Spinel is a mineral composed of mainly magnesium and aluminum. It is found in gravel deposits in various places, including Afghanistan, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Thailand. Spinel comes in many colors, including green, and is often classified as a gemstone. Historically, some crown jewels were actually Spinel and not rubies or emeralds because it can be difficult to tell the difference based on appearance alone.

Spinel in a dark green color can resemble Tsavorite. It has a similar hardness on the Mohs scale, coming in at an eight. It is often transparent and is singly refractive. However, green Spinel itself can be pretty rare. Sometimes, green glass may be used to create fake Green Spinel.

Finally, you may encounter green tourmaline, known as Verdelite. Tourmaline is a mineral made of borosilicate mixed with other elements. It is also a semi-precious gem found nearly everywhere in the world. Tourmaline comes in various colors, though green and pink are the most common. Shades of Verdelite can range from light, spring green to yellow or brownish green. Verdelite has the same hardness as Tsavorite and can be set in almost any type of jewelry.

While Spinel and Verdelite can be beautiful, though less valuable, alternatives to Tsavorite green glass should be avoided altogether.

How To Check for Tsavorite Authenticity

There are a few ways to tell if your Tsavorite is real.

• Use a jeweler's loop or microscope. Viewing your Tsavorite under magnification can help you determine if it is authentic. Real Tsavorite will not possess any bubbles. Bubbles can indicate it is actually green glass.

• Check for inclusions. Inclusions in gemstones, such as feathers, usually indicate the stone is natural. However, Verdelite can have thread-like inclusions, and Spinel can have inclusions that almost appear like human fingerprints.

• Use a magnet. Real Tsavorite usually has traces of iron and will exhibit magnetic capabilities. Things like glass and Cubic Zirconia will not.

How to Care for Tsavorite Jewelry

Tsavorite is relatively durable but can still get grimy if worn in everyday jewelry. The gem can also be scratched if you are not cautious. Therefore, taking your jewelry in for an occasional inspection and cleaning can be important. A jeweler can ensure your stone is still secure in its setting and give it a thorough cleanse and polish.

To clean your Tsavorite at home, only use warm water, gentle soap, and a soft brush or cloth. You should not use a harsh cleaner or a stiff brush to scrub your stone. You should keep your Tsavorite away from aggressive cleaners, which means removing your jewelry before tackling household chores. Furthermore, Tsavorite gems should never be steamed or exposed to very sudden temperature changes.

Treating your Tsavorite with care can help to keep it looking radiant and beautiful.


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