Lovely green garnets!

Last, and by no means least, dear January babies, are the 2 green garnets in the group! To start is tsavorite, which gets its name from Tsavo National Park where Scottish gemologist Campbell Bridges first discovered them while he was working in Zimbabwe in 1961.  A geological map showed him that hills near his camp had various types of rocks that possibly formed minerals deposits or gemstones.  On his day off, he started for the hills to explore, and as he was making his way up the edge of a gully, a buffalo charged at him!  Talk about having your heart in your mouth!  He did what anyone would do; he jumped into the gully (can you see it?)! After the buffalo left, he was checking out the area where he found the green crystals in an outcrop (a visible rock formation).  His second discovery was made in 1967 in Tanzania, then, in 1973, Bridges and Tiffany & Co introduced tsavorite to the world.   The color ranges from bright yellowish green to deep green or bluish green.

This amazing find of an 185-gram tsavorite took place in East Africa!

Here are the photos of both sides of the uncut stone

Here is faceted stone weighing in at 325.13 carats (deeeee-licious!)


Tsavorite hardness: 6.5-7.5 on the Mohs scale

Toughness: very

Cleavage: none

Stability to light: Stable

*NEW* Buyers guide – look for gems that are emerald green in color.  The color shouldn’t be yellowish green or too dark, as these are considered lower grade gems.  View it under daylight as incandescent lighting can make it appear a little more yellowish.  For all gems, when it comes to cut, never compromise!  The light should reflect evenly across the gem, making it sparkle.  Look for eye-clean or near eye-clean gems.  If you have any doubts when you’re making a substantial purchase, you can always get an independent lab report to ensure that the merchandiser is selling you the gem they say it is, not just a bill of goods, you dig?

Another green garnet, demantoid, was originally discovered in Russia around 1853 by a group of children (and not a charging buffalo in sight!).  They are found in other parts of the world but the Russian-mined garnets remain the standard by which all other demantoid gems are measured.  By the way, a well-cut demantoid can display such a stunning amount of dispersion (the ability to split white light into the full spectrum of color – a.k.a fire); it can have a higher rate than a diamond! Peter Carl Faberge integrated this garnet into some of his pieces for the Royal family from the late 1800’s until 1917 when the Russian revolution brought a sudden end to the house of Faberge and the Romanov dynasty. Russian demantoid garnets are considered a highly valued due to the long, thin needle-like strands of chrysotile (a form of asbestos) forming what is called “Horsetail inclusions”.  These golden wisps are markers of Russian origins, but they are also found in gems from Iran and Italy.  They are not found in those from Namibia and Madagascar. Check out this example of Russian demantoid.  You can see how the inclusions burst like fireworks!



Below are two views of a pendant Peter Carl Faberge created using a delicious demantoid garnet.  Staring at his gorgeous enameling makes me itch to get back to it, myself!


Because I care, here is a demantoid brooch, circa 1885 (L) and a ring auctioned at Sotheby’s; you can see the horsetail inclusions in the ring…


Although the greens between tsavorite and demantoid overlap, the demantoid is a bit softer and has higher refraction (how the varying density of gems make light waves change direction as it passes through it) and dispersion.

Demantoid hardness: 6.5-7 on the Mohs scale

Toughness: good

Cleavage: none

Stability to light: Stable

Buyers guide – While an emerald green color is the ideal, it really comes to a matter of personal taste; darker gems will have less fire whereas a lighter color will show more fire.  They are rarely more than 1 or 2 carats in size.

Care: Garnets are heat sensitive and should not be exposed to sudden changes in temperature.  Ultrasonic cleaners and steamers are not recommended.  The best way to clean them is with a soft cloth or soft brush (not a toothbrush and only if needed) with warm water and a mild soap.  Rinse thoroughly with the same temperature water to make sure all soap is rinsed off.  Although they are tough and durable, remember to protect them from hard blows and keep them away from other gems to prevent scratching.

Symbolic meanings for garnet to use in your gift-giving guide are: Purity, Truth, Faithfulness, and Friendship.  It’s also the gemstone given for the second wedding anniversary. *

That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed learning about the garnet group as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you!  Later this week, I will start off by using gemstones as an acrostic message.  On week 2, I will give you some tips for taking good care of your lovely jewelry and then we will spend the remainder of the month exploring February’s birthstone, Amethyst.  Thanks for your time!


Please feel free to ask for reference information

*this information will be provided in the last birthstone post.