What is tsavorite? Jewelers around the world are increasingly working with gems that are even rarer than real diamonds.In this series of we have a closer look at a few of them.
Rare cousin of emerald: Tsavorite
Why do you need to know this stone? Because it’s the ‘Rolls-Royce of the green’, according to Henry Platt, former top man of the jewelry house Tiffany & Co. He immediately saw the potential of the venom-green semi-precious stone as an unknown and rare cousin of the emerald. That green, almost luminous color is due to the metals vanadium and chromium.
When was it discovered? Tsavorite was discovered in Tanzania in 1967 by the British geologist Campbell R. Bridges. Because Tanzania forbade exports, Campbell began searching in neighboring Kenya. In 1971 he discovered some. But it wasn’t until 1974 that the stone became known to a large public, thanks to the American jewelry brand Tiffany & Co., which built a major marketing campaign around it.
It was also Tiffany chairman Platt who named the stone in 1974 after Tsavo National Park, close to the site in Kenya. In 2009 Campbell was killed here when a gang attacked him and his son.
How rare? Tsavorite is 200 times rarer than emerald. In most tsavorites the green color comes from the metal vanadium. But there is one mine in Kenya, in the village of Kuranze, where tsavorites with chromium are found. They have a special blue shine and are even rarer.
Price tag? For the best and biggest stones the price goes up to $8500 per carat. For smaller stones (1-2 carats) the price is $1550. Large sizes are hard to find. Most cut tsavorites are less than 3 carats. A stone of more than 7 or 8 carat is exceptional, more than 20 carat is world class.
Color is the most important of the four c’s (color, clarity, carat weight, cut). The most expensive stones are vivid deep green. Too light, too dark or too yellow reduces the price. The closer to the color of emerald, the more expensive.
Record holder? The largest cut tsavorite is 116.76 carats. The rough specimen was no less than 283.74 carats and was excavated in Tanzania in 2017 by the company Bridges Tsavorite of Bruce Bridges, the son of discoverer Campbell. The company quarries, sorts and polishes the stones in-house and uses a transparent mine-to-market chain.
Solid as a rock? 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale. In comparison: talc is 1 and diamond is 10. In practical terms this means that tsavorite is hard enough for jewelry you wear every day.
Spotted at? Of course at Tiffany & Co., but also at Jochen Leën, Cartier, Chopard and Boucheron.