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Tsavorite, the green grossular garnet found only in Africa, has known better days—the last of them back in the 1980s when dealers the world over confidently predicted this gem would prove as viable an alternative to emerald as tanzanite to sapphire. Very few of tsavorite's many former boosters have entertained such hopes for this stone in nearly 15 years. Some disappointed dealers even said garnet's luck had run out and that it was time to declare it an extinct species: the twentieth century version of demantoid garnet, a rare prize for gem collectors, not a gem for jewelry.

Well, pull out that rabbit's foot, or whatever you use to bring good luck, because tsavorite is bursting at several seams in Kenya, Tanzania, and even Madagascar. The future for this gem is looking as good as its past.

Mind you, we're not talking about market overloads of yellowish-green peridot look-alikes in mostly small sizes from Kenya or larger overdark material from Tanzania that have been the color norms for this gem for far too long. We're talking about flourishing abundance of bright bouncy greens that often rival those of emerald and which make one fondly recall what all the fuss was about when this gem still caused a fuss.

Judging from the amounts of impressive material seen in the past year, tsavorite may be staging a long-awaited comeback. But just to be safe, don't put away that rabbit's foot quite yet.

The Big Dig

Tsavorite's fortunes changed dramatically with a major find at Mwatara in southern Tanzania. An equally momentous strike at Kuraze in southeastern Kenya followed. Although sizes of finished stones from this locality, as well as most other tsavorite mining areas in Kenya, rarely exceed 2 carats, the color of its better goods gives fine emerald a run for the money.

Last but not least, it is worth noting that tsavorite is not solely an East African gem anymore. Material is coming, still in dribs and drabs, from Madagascar. True, goods so far have been darker shades and stones have tended to be very flawed. But the fact that green grossular garnet is found in other parts of Africa besides Kenya and Tanzania gives new hope to those who long for a mighty new mainstay among green gems. And anyone who has seen some of the Kuraze tsavorite has every right to yearn for far more of the stuff.

Nevertheless, for tsavorite to attain the stature of tanzanite will require marketing as intensive as mining.

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