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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Grossular (var. tsavorite) and Elbaite

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                                          asset is available
Photo by Chip Clark. Click to zoom.
SpecimenCatalog NumberLocalityWeight
GrossularNMNH G10525-00Kenya15.93 ct
ElbaiteNMNH G10530-00Mozambique40.1 ct

Purchased with funds from the Tiffany & Co. Foundation in 2006.

With the Tiffany & Co. Foundation Endowment, the Smithsonian was able to acquire two important gems for the National Gem Collection: a 15.93ct tsavorite garnet and a 40.10ct tourmaline.

One of the rarest and most prized garnets in jewelry today is this brilliant green variety of grossular garnet called tsavorite. The most desirable tsavorites are an intense green to blue-green and can sometimes be confused with emerald. The color is due to the presence of vanadium. Tsavorite was first discovered in 1967 in northern Tanzania and again in 1970 in Kenya’s Tsavo National Park by world renowned geologist, Campbell Bridges. In 1971, Mr. Bridges was granted a permit to mine the Kenyan deposit. In 1973, this variety of green garnet was named tsavorite in honor of Kenya’s Tsavo National Park, by Henry B. Platt, former President of Tiffany & Co., and Campbell Bridges, founder of Tsavorite USA. Tiffany launched a marketing campaign in 1974 that brought recognition to the beautiful green gem. Still today, this region on the Kenya-Tanzania border remains the only source of gem tsavorite. This important 15.93-carat tsavorite garnet exhibits the highly-prized vivid green color. It is also large in size for a gem tsavorite and represents a significant upgrade for the gem collection.

The 40.10 carat tourmaline is from Mozambique.The tourmaline family consists of more than 14 distinct minerals, but only one, elbaite, accounts for nearly all of the tourmaline gemstones Tourmaline gems are found in the complete range of the color spectrum, in exquisite shades unlike any other gem material. This gem exhibits an intense purple color that is very rare for tourmaline. Commonly, tourmalines of this color from Mozambique are heat-treated to turn them a neon blue color similar to the rare and valuable Paraiba tourmalines of Brazil. This gem was not heat treated, probably due to the natural inclusions that would not withstand the heat without shattering the stone, or perhaps because of its particular intense and attractive natural color. Rare in both size and color, this tourmaline is a wonderful addition to the National Gem Collection.


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