All You Need to Know about Green Tsavorite Gemstone

Three Tsavorite garnets cabochons in bright green

If you are looking for a green gemstone, then you’ve come to the right place! Tsavorite (a.k.a. tsavolite or tsavorite garnet)  is a variety of garnet that is extremely rare.

Although tsavorite is little known, it is an eye-catching, vibrant green gemstone that can rival the beauty of emeralds. It is a relatively recent addition in the catalog of gemstones and is only found in one region of the world.

  1. What is tsavorite?

Three Tsavorite garnets cabochons in bright green

Tsavorites cut en cabochon

Tsavorite is a relatively new gemstone. It was discovered as recently as 1967 and was given its name after the location where it was initially found – Tsavo National Park in Kenya. Tsavorite is found in Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar

Tsavorite is a member of the garnet family, linked to the grossularite variety. It gains its color from the presence of vanadium and chromium during its formation.

  1. How do I evaluate tsavorite?

In determining the value of any precious stone, we always look to the 4Cs – cut, color, clarity and carat.

How to evaluate the color of tsavorite

What makes a tsavorite a tsavorite and not a garnet is its distinctive color. So color is the most important factor when evaluating the quality of the gemstone.

It is important to consider the hue, tone and saturation of the gemstone when considering its color. Under saturation results in pale colored stones, while over saturation causes the tsavorite to become dark and murky.

The image below shows a tsavorite with uneven saturation and tone. This has created dark areas in the stone, reducing its attractiveness and value.

an isolated green tsavorite garnet gem stone

While tsavorites are found in every shade of green, the most desirable are the vivid green stones with perfect saturation for even color distribution. They are not too dark nor too pale.

Evaluating the clarity of your tsavorite

Tsavorites are a Type 2 gemstone, meaning that it is classed as being usually included. Common inclusions are miniscule feathers, crystals and needle-like impurities. Because the stone is transparent, inclusions within the stone can easily be seen by the naked eye.

It is critical to evaluate the clarity of the tsavorite and ensure that it is eye-clean before you purchase. Look for HD images/videos of the actual gemstone to help you make the decision.

Note: Generally, if a gemstone is less included it is more valuable. However, there are those rare exceptions such as chatoyancy or asterism where the pattern of the inclusions can actually raise the value of the stone.

Choosing the cut of your tsavorite

Tsavorite can be cut into all the popular gemstone shapes, but the most popular are ovals and cushions. Some other shapes for tsavorite are rounds, marquise, emerald, trillions and pear.

It is important that the stone well-proportioned with the weight distributed evenly across the stone to maximize the size of the stone. Tsavorite is a very brilliant stone with a high refractive index, so faceting the stone creates a better play with light and optimizes its brilliance.

Note: The Refractive Index (RI) refers to the stone’s ability to bend light as it passes through the stone. The angle at which the stone bends, or refracts, light is what helps to determine its RI. Stones with a higher RI are more brilliant.  

How to choose the carat weight of tsavorite

Most gem quality tsavorites are found in small sizes, with 1-3 carats being the most common. However, because the stone is so rare, it is difficult to find high quality pieces in even 1 carat sizes.

Tsavorite prices increases considerably per carat, so a 3-carat stone will cost much more than three 1-carat stones. Large tsavorites should be checked carefully prior to buying because in many cases, cutters often focus on retaining the weight of the gemstone rather than cutting for quality. This can result in a gemstone of higher carat weight but relatively poorer quality.

  1. What about synthetic or treated tsavorites on the market?

There is no known tsavorite treatments or enhancements on the market. As far as is known, all the stones you find are naturally mined with the only enhancement being the quality of its cut. This makes the stone even more valuable because you know that what you are getting is the real deal.

There is also no known synthetic version of tsavorite (also known as lab-created or man-made).

  1. What are some tsavorite imitations on the market?

Because tsavorite is rare and somewhat pricey, there are a number of imitations on the market, notably glass, cubic zirconia and spinel.

Tsavorite vs. glass

This is the most common tsavorite imitator and can be quite tricky to spot. Green glass can be created to mimic the exact appearance of a tsavorite. For unsuspecting buyers, this can be an issue as even experts can be fooled.

Here are a few ways to distinguish the two:

  • The microscope test: Use a microscope to check the stone carefully. If the stone is glass, you may see round bubbles within. If there are inclusions that look like natural impurities or needles, then it is likely that your stone is an actual tsavorite.
  • The magnet test: Tsavorite contains traces of iron within its composition, while glass does not. Therefore, tsavorite will often exhibit a magnetic response. Place the tsavorite on a piece of Styrofoam in a bowl of water and set it afloat. Then, taking a strong magnet, try to attract the stone. If you notice any movement towards the magnet, it’s likely your stone is really tsavorite.

Tsavorite vs. green cubic zirconia

Green colored cubic zirconia (CZ) is a lab-created stone that is often used as a tsavorite simulant. Here are two ways to distinguish the two:

  • The Price Check - Possibly the easiest way to tell the two apart is by the price. CZ is extremely cheap with even the best quality only costing about 20 dollars per carat. However, tsavorite is much more expensive at about ….
  • The Scratch Test - Check the durability of the stone. CZ is highly durable and has a Mohs hardness ranking of 8.5 while tsavorite only ranks at 7 to 7.5. This means that a CZ can easily scratch the surface of the tsavorite.
  1. Tsavorite in jewelry

The color of tsavorite is a lively, vivid green, full of vitality and bursting with personality. There are a number of ways and reasons to wear tsavorite jewelry.

Energize your wardrobe

To add some color to boring neutrals such as black, white, beige or navy a little bit of tsavorite can go a long way. Keep the pieces simple and classy for daily wear.

Small stud earrings, dainty pendants and tasteful rings can add that pop of color without going overboard.

Choose your favorite metal

Tsavorite is most commonly set in silver or white gold settings for a modern look. The contrast of the green against the white metal creates a stunning and edgy look.

For a more classic appearance choose a setting made of rose or yellow gold. The color theory behind this is that green and yellow create an analogous color combination, forming a relaxing and immediately likeable impression.

Choose a multicolor look

Many people are opting towards colourful jewelry items that give a voice to their personality. The trend of combining multicolor gemstones is a growing trend.

For this look, you can choose a multi-stone ring setting or cluster earrings that contain tsavorite along with other colourful gemstones. Pair this with neutral outfits to make the most of the vibrant colors. For a variation, try stacking dainty rings that contain tsavorite and other gemstones.

Tsavorite birthstone jewelry

Garnet is the birthstone for January, so as a variety of garnet, tsavorite can be worn by January babies as their birthstone. It makes for perfect birthday, anniversary or coming of age gifts for January babies.

  1. Is a tsavorite engagement ring a good idea?

tsavorite ring with diamond halo

Source

Tsavorite is unique and vibrant as an engagement ring gemstone. It’s striking color stands out beautifully on your finger and really makes a statement.

However, there are two main factors to consider when deciding on a tsavorite engagement ring.

Firstly, because of its bold color, tsavorite gemstones can clash with certain colors and not match every outfit you wear. However, this is a matter of taste and depends on your style.

Secondly, tsavorite is a fairly durable stone but can be scratched and damaged if not taken care of properly (more on durability later). For some, this can also be an impediment to daily wear.

Having said that, many non-traditional couples who want something different can opt for a tsavorite engagement ring. With appropriate care, you can have your tsavorite engagement ring last a long time.

  1. Which is better – tsavorite Vs. emeralds?

cut emerald gemstone

An emerald showing inclusions

Tsavorite is often compared to emeralds. They are both vivid green gemstones, with a Mohs scale of 7.5. However, emeralds are very well known and considered a precious gemstone, whereas tsavorite is not as popular.

Tsavorite vs emerald - Rarity

A tsavorite is four times rarer than an emerald. While you can easily find emeralds in jewelers’ stores, coming across a tsavorite is harder. This makes tsavorite a more unique gemstone.

Tsavorite vs. emerald - Durability

Although both stones have the same Mohs ranking and therefore the same scratch resistance, tsavorite is a much tougher stone than emerald.

Emeralds are often heavily included and therefore more prone to chipping, cracking or breaking if exposed to rough wear. They are often treated with resin/oils to fill fractures and enhance their general stability.

Tsavorites, on the other hand, are tougher. They are generally free of inclusions and have stronger resistance to breakage. Tsavorites are also not treated or enhanced in any way.

Tsavorite vs. emerald – Fire

Emeralds are known for their characteristic hue but not for their fire or brilliance. While they are gorgeous in their own way, they can tend to look subdued. This is especially noticeable when emeralds are paired with diamonds.

Tsavorites have a higher RI than emeralds and therefore has higher brilliance. Also, tsavorite has one of the highest level of dispersion of all colored gems, meaning that it has more fire. When paired with diamonds, tsavorites can hold their own in terms of sparkle and fire. 

Tsavorite vs. emerald - Price

Emeralds tend to be much pricier than tsavorites. Although they are plentifully found, what drives price here is the demand. Shoppers often go for emeralds because of their reputation as a precious gemstone. If you want the look but not the price, a tsavorite will be perfect for you. 

  1. Taking care of your tsavorite

As we have already discussed, tsavorite is a relatively hard stone with a Mohs ranking of 7 to 7.5. It is also quite tough and does not easily break.

Use soap and warm water with a soft brush to wash the stone. Once washed, make sure the soap is rinsed off and the stone is dried thoroughly. It is not recommended that you use ultrasonic cleaners as these can damage the gemstone.

When storing the tsavorite, wrap it in a cotton or velvet cloth. This keeps it free from dust and from being scratched by other items.

Keep tsavorite away from chemicals such as harsh detergents, bleach and cosmetics. It is always better to take off any tsavorite jewelry when handling any sort of chemicals or engaging in outdoor/physical activities. Protect tsavorite from knocks and bumps, especially during strenuous activities. This applies especially to tsavorite rings which will likely be more exposed than earrings or pendants.

  1. The symbolism and meanings of tsavorite/garnet

Generally, tsavorites/garnets have been used as a gemstone for over 5,000 years, and are thought to be among the most ancient talismans. It is prized for its protective energies and healing power. During the Middle Ages, this precious gemstone was used as a symbol for truth and faith; during the Crusades it served as a talisman against the enemy.

There are those who believe that garnets have therapeutic powers, and so they use these to fight depression and to dispel nightmares. By wearing tsavorite/garnet jewelry, ailments such as rheumatism, arthritic pain, and even acne are believed to be alleviated and healed.

Now, while we cannot verify whether or not these beliefs are true and that tsavorites/garnets contain these powers, what we can attest to is the beauty of the garnet as a gemstone. That is undeniable!

  1. Where can I buy tsavorite?

Needless to say, looking for tsavorites at physical stores will severely limit your options. This is an uncommon gemstone and many jewelers don’t stock tsavorite items.

You will have more options if you take your search online. However, always check the after sales service and returns policy, in case of any issues.

Because many vendors have whole sections dedicated to birthstones, there are many options where you can find beautiful and classy tsavorite/garnet jewelry.