Tsavorite Garnet Jewelry and Spring Break Treasures

It’s the time of year when we begin celebrating the arrival of warmer and sunnier days with spring break.

It’s also a good time to celebrate with green gemstones, like tsavorite garnet.
If you don’t know what tsavorite garnet is, then you’re in for a treat!

Largest tsavorite crystal found at over 300 carats! (Source of photo unknown; found on Geologyin.com)

National Jewel Day

Tuesday was National Jewel Day.
It’s always on March 13.

When I looked it up, all I could find was reference to celebrating those working in the jewelry industry.
Sort of like a “jeweler appreciation day”.

I’m not sure who, why and how the day started, but it was the perfect day to talk about jewels, gems and jewelry on the first episode of the Jewelry Navigator Podcast!

jewelry podcast

If you had a chance to listen – thank you!
You’re probably here to check out tsavorite, and the jewelry I mentioned in the podcast.
If not, have a look, then go listen to the podcast.

You can find the Jewelry Navigator Podcast in the iTunes store, and also on Podbean, here.

(This is a two part post that coordinates with the first episode of the Jewelry Navigator Podcast.
The first part features tsavorite and tsavorite jewelry, the second part of the post will be published by the weekend-an exclusive feature with Bowman Originals jewelry.)

March – a Month for Tsavorite Garnet

Green. It’s the color that doesn’t take sides.
Neutrally residing in the middle of the visible light spectrum, green is bright, yet calming.

Even though emeralds are the iconic green gemstone, there are others worth getting to know, and the range in color from kelly green to sea foam green, 

One that may surprise you is the green variety of garnet, called tsavorite.
Most people assume garnets are red, but they actually form in almost every color!

A Brief History and Geology of Tsavorite Garnet

Tsavorite was Discovered in the late 1960’s, in Tsavo National Park, Kenya.

Tsavorite is part of a treasure trove of gemstones discovered  in the mineral rich band that sweeps from the southwestern tip of Africa, in Namibia, and up the eastern side, to Ethiopia.

map of where tsavorite is mined

Illustration, Richard Hughes, from website ruby-sapphire.com

Garnets are a common by-product of metamorphic rocks, and are often found in schists.

Schists form from shale, and are a geologic indication of a deep marine origin. (so yes, at one time this area of Africa was once submerged under the ocean!)

In the case of tsavorite, this makes sense. Two elements present in the organic material that made up the original rock formations where we find tsavorite, contain vanadium and chromium, and are responsible for the intense, pure green color of tsavorite.

Like a gemstone bakery, the geologic history of eastern Africa was tumultuous with orogenic activity of subduction zones and plate tectonic collisions.

Tsavorite porphyroblasts, along with rough and faceted gems from Tsavo area, Kenya. Stones courtesy: Genson Micheni Musa/ Tsavolite Co Ltd, Photo: V. Pardieu/Gübelin Gem Lab, 2007.
from ruby-sapphire.com

The pressure and heat applied to the rock layers in the areas where tsavorite is found was intense. Large scale crushing and folding of rock layers occurred, making them look like Christmas ribbon candy.

The pressure and folding was so intense that tsavorite crystals are often found crushed by the very force from which they were formed.

Because of the traumatic forces during the host rock’s formations, it’s unusual to find many tsavorite crystals larger than 5 carats. 

tsavorite green garnet

Rings in the making, with two varieties of garnet, tsavorite (over 8 cts.!), and spessartite, R. Simantov Fine Jewelry, Nantucket, Massachusetts

Tsavorite is an exceptional choice of an intense green stone for jewelry. It’s more durable than emerald, and is untreated, meaning its color is natural, and wasn’t produced by heat or any form of treatment.

Before the showcase of jewelry, here is a video of an area being surveyed for tsavorite, by Lapigems Gem Company.

Thesis Gems

Founded by designer Cate Claus, Thesis Gems not only showcases the vibrant green garnet, tsavorite in her jewelry lines, but enlists green practices in her jewelry production, taking care to use gems and materials that have been ethically sourced.

With an organic, but elegant feel, Thesis Gems collection sets vibrant gems in 18kt yellow gold.

Thesis Gems is located in San Francisco, and you can find Thesis Gems jewelry on 1st Dibs.

Loriann Jewelry

Inspired by all areas of nature and watercolors, Lori Friedman creates jewelry interpreted by layers.
Her signature style is innovative with gems caged by gold, and topped by colorful gems to complement or contrast its host.
See loriannjewelry.com for an interactive lookbook, and for boutiques and stockists.

Nayla Shami

I met Nayla Shami at the Metal and Smith Winter Edit show on February 5.
I flew up just for the day from Regan National Airport.

Intrigued by her “Medal of Honor” collection, I was determined to find her before having to fly back to D.C. in the afternoon.

LOVE Nayla Shami’s medal of honor necklaces! -photo from Nayla Shami’s instagram feed.

Nayla’s designs are inspiring on their own, with themes ranging from reverent to whimsical.

Nayla lives in Lubbock, Texas, but grew up in Lebanon, where she draws inspiration from childhood memories of the Mediterranean seaside.

Although she handcrafts most of her designs from her studio in Texas, she entrusts artisans in Beirut, Lebanon to fabricate some of her pieces.
You can find Nayla’s jewlery on her website, naylashami.com, as well as in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at Malouf on the Plaza.

Gigi Ferranti

Gigi Ferranti’s jewelry designs are elegant and with signature geometric elements.

Her Lucia collection rings ( lucia meaning “light” in Italian), can be worn separately, or stacked.

Her use of tsavorite as an accent stone help punctuate the the brilliance of the radiant green gems.

You can find her jewelry in London Jewelers locations in New York, and see her website for more, and an exceptional interactive look book, at gigiferranti.com.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of tsavorite jewelry, and learning about the rare garnet.

I’ll be back next week to continue the exploration of green gemstones and “green” jewelry.

Follow my gem and jewelry itinerary on Instagram @jewelrynavigator, and be sure to subscribe to the Jewelry Navigator Podcast on iTunes!

Until then, prepare for more jewelry adventures!