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November 1999

Gemstones & Pearls: News

Green Light for Tsavorite

New source may bring increased supply and a higher profile

A major find of tsavorite was discovered in February at Namungo Hill, about 100 miles from the coastal town of Lindi in southern Tanzania.

The find raises hope that tsavorite – a grossular green garnet – could become a mainstream gemstone for jewelers. The discovery could lead to steady supply – a crucial factor determining whether a rare gemstone such as tsavorite can prosper in the mass market.

The new source initially attracted some 3,000 miners from all over Tanzania to the region. "Over 100 tsavorite pits have been dug on less than a square mile of the tsavorite reef so far," says Dana Schorr of Schorr Marketing & Sales, Santa Barbara, CA. Supplies from the initial find are now beginning to reach consuming markets in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Gem dealers and marketing groups such as Schorr's are positioning themselves to take advantage of tsavorite's increased profile before the Christmas shopping season and the Tucson gem and mineral shows in February. As a result, you're sure to hear more about this green gem in the months ahead.

High Quality

"The tsavorite reef contains pockets that yield an average 0.5 to 5 kilograms of rough," says Schorr. "These tsavorites are quite gemmy and of exceptional pure green." Microscopic examination revealed inclusions also typical of tsavorites from Kenya. Fingerprint inclusions, healed fractures and graphite platelets indicate the host rock in which the tsavorite formed.

Schorr says the tsavorite rough typically yields consistent material suitable for calibration, such as 5mm rounds. A variety of other sizes and shapes can be mass-produced, and some singular large gems are available as well. Any tsavorite larger than 3 carats is considered rare.

Prices for tsavorite may drop temporarily, creating new opportunities for retailers seeking beautiful, all-natural green gems. But Schorr expects the price to stabilize then increase as new markets develop.

"In a sense, the excitement has died down a bit and the mines in Tanzania are operating just like any other mines would," says Daniel Assaf of Andre Assaf/The Tsavorite Factory, New York City. "I do see a lot more material on the market, but it has not lost its price. Because tanzanite is not as available any more, people are paying a lot more attention to that other East African gemstone: tsavorite."

  • Schorr Marketing & Sales, Santa Barbara, CA; (805) 966-9966,
  • Andre Assaf/The Tsavorite Factory, New York City; (212) 391-1155.

by Robert Weldon, G.G.

The new find in southern Tanzania is raising tsavorite's profile. Gems are courtesy of Schorr Marketing & Sales, Santa Barbara, CA.
At 40X , fingerprint inclusions, asbestos fibers and small graphite platelets can be discerned through a microscope. Gem courtesy of Schorr Marketing & Sales, Santa Barbara, CA.

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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