What is Tsavorite?

Tsavorite is a type of garnet. The most sought after colour is a vivid, rich emerald green, but Tsavorite can be light or dark green too.

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Tsavorite was discovered by British geologist Campbell R. Bridges in 1967 in an area of barren, lion infested wilderness in Tanzania and then again in Kenya along the Kenya-Tanzania border. It was named by Harry Platt of Tiffany after the Tsavo game reserve in Kenya. The very finest Tsavorite with the purest green hues are still only found in the Tsavo District of Kenya.


Tsavorite is a fantastic alternative to Emerald, especially since it is less included (sometimes even flawless), rarely treated and is more durable (being harder than Emerald on the Mohs Scale). Emerald on the other hand is routinely oiled and glass filled. Tsavorite has a particularly amazing brilliance, so it literally outshines Emerald!

Tsavorite has an extremely old geological history. The Kenya-Tanzania border region has a history of volcanic activity, but the rocks in which Tsavorite formed were first laid down over 2 billion years ago, thus making it older than the dinosaurs!

Tsavorite is only found in relatively small sizes. Stones over 2.5 carats are considered very rare and valuable. The Smithsonian Gem Collection’s prize piece is just 7 carats. The largest, cleanest Tsavorite on record is a 325.14-carat top-color beauty found near the Block B Tanzanite mines near Arusha,  Tanzania. It valued at over $2 million.


At 7.5 on the Mohs Scale, Tsavorite is much more durable than Emerald and you will have far less reason to worry about damaging it. However, as with all gems, there are certain things that should be remembered. For example, do not clean it in a steam cleaner, of the type often used to clean Diamonds in jewellers shops. This could cause cracking. Unlike Tanzanite, Tsavorite can be cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner. The safest way remains as the time-honoured cleaning with warm soapy water and a toothbrush.