By Robert Genis

In 1968, two geologists working separately discovered a new green garnet in Kenya. The Scottish geologist, Campbell Bridges, prompted by Tiffany was working one side of a hill and South African Peter Morgan was approaching the locality from the other side. The discovery was probably first confirmed by Bridges. Morgan discovered the first large tsavorite deposit.

Tsavorite is a green grossular garnet. It is a calcium aluminum silicate. In 1974 the new gem was named "Tsavorite" after the famous Tsavo National Park game preserve in Kenya. Tiffany & Co. introduced the gemstone to the world market. Today, tsavorite is mined in the hills that run across the border from Kenya to Tanzania.

Africa was covered by the ocean millions of years ago. Layers of organic sediment were deposited which formed shale. The land was subjected to intense heat and pressure, folding and uplift, metamorphically changing the ocean floor into new minerals. This twisting and torturing of the rocks gave birth to the unusual gemstones of East Africa, many colored by the vanadium which is plentiful in these rocks because of their organic history in the ocean floor.

Tsavorite is often found in pods which miners call potatoes. The green color is most often due to vanadium or chromium. The early geology which formed tsavorite shattered most of the crystals. Tsavorite mining requires expensive earth removal equipment. It is very rare to find tsavorite in sizes larger than three carats. Most tsavorites are carat size or smaller. (Ed. note: The largest tsavorite we have ever bought/sold was a gem 15.41). Compare this to the wide availability of tanzanite above 10 carats.

Most deposits of tsavorite are found in small and unpredictable pockets. From a mining standpoint, it is very difficult to figure where to mine next. There have been about 40-50 different areas where tsavorite has been mined. Today, only four mining ventures are still producing. The Scorpion Mine in southeast Kenya is now producing from tunnels sunk on an incline for more than 200 feet. The other major producer in this area is starting an underground mining operation. A new tsavorite-producing area was recently discovered in Lokirima, about a thousand kilometers northwest of the previously known localities. So far, this location is producing small quantities.

Tsavorite is usually cut in Tanzania, Kenya and in Idar-Oberstein. A tsavorite miner in Kenya has begun a promotional program with a dealer in Idar-Oberstein to try to convince manufacturers and jewelers that, in small sizes, tsavorite is reliably available as a durable and attractive green gemstone. The dealer is offering calibrated and fancy-cut tsavorite in unusual shapes as well as a line of tsavorite jewelry with tapered tsavorite baguettes and other surprising uses of tsavorite. This is important because the jewelry industry needs to be made aware of tsavorite. As a general rule, the more well-known a gem by collectors and jewelers, the higher prices can go.

Demantoid Connection
The most famous green garnet is the demantoid garnet, which was discovered in Russia's Ural Mountains in 1868. This stone was the rage in Europe and New York high society. Today, you sometimes see demantoid garnets in Victorian jewelry at auctions. Demantoid was available mostly in small sizes. Mining of this beautiful, brilliant green garnet lasted only about 30 years and the only source for top quality stones today is antique jewelry. A new mine in Russia is producing some demantoid today, but most are sub-carat gems. Sometimes you can find a carat size demantoid garnet from a collector. However, they are ultra-rare, highly desirable, and expensive.

Tsavorite vs. Emerald
Let's compare tsavorite with emerald. Both gems were formed under conditions of great stress, and are seldom found in sizes large enough to cut clean stones above two carats. Tsavorite is 200x rarer than emerald, sells for about 1/4 the price, is more brilliant due to a higher refractive index (1.74 vs. 1.596) and is harder than an emerald. Finally, 99.9% of all emeralds are oiled or opticoned and tsavorite is not treated in any way.

What To Look For In Tsavorite
When collecting tsavorite, you need to look for an intense vibrant green color. It should be similar to imperial jade or emerald green. They should be at least one carat in size and a standard shape. You want to avoid gems that look like peridot (green/yellow) or stones that are too dark in tone (green/black). Like emeralds, tsavorite can be green/blue or green/yellow. And like emerald, different collectors have opposing secondary color preferences. There is no market preference on which color is the optimum. In AGL terms, it is practically impossible to receive a straight 3.5 color in emerald; it is similarly as difficult to receive a 3.5 tsavorite. A 4 or 4.5 color tsavorite is a top gem. Tone should be between 65-85. Average brilliancy should be 50% or greater. Proportions and finish should be good (6) or better. You do not want 5.5 colors or 90 tone gems.

Tsavorite is a gem loved by collectors and custom jewelers. Tsavorite is in a very similar market stage to Burma spinel. Both gemstones need to break out of a cycle of low demand caused by a lack of supply. (Although it should be noted a gem dealer in Bangkok has recently begun marketing sub-carat fancy-shaped Burma spinels to manufacturers.) There is potential for mining tsavorite in other areas of Kenya, but development of new areas requires investment in machinery and high operating costs. Eventually, the beauty of tsavorite is bound to win over new consumers and new collectors. You need only to see tsavorite to appreciate its appeal. The recent price increases for tanzanite, which came through an increase in the supply available, may mean tsavorite is the next alternative gemstone to dramatically increase in price. Prices have been increasing recently after years of declining. Tsavorite is an excellent choice for collectors on a limited budget. Also, if your portfolio already contains fancy diamonds, Colombian emeralds, Burma ruby and sapphire, you might want to speculate with a gem tsavorite. We presently have a few AGL graded gems in our inventory. Call 1-800-458-6453 for more specific details and prices.


The Year of the Ruby
The ICA, a non-profit trade association that represents the world-wide gemstone industry, has declared 1996 the year of the ruby. Ruby was selected as the gemstone to be promoted because of the new supply of ruby from the deposit in Mong Hsu, Burma (Myanmar). A ruby promotion would have been impossible before because of the lack of supply from Mogok. For years colored gemstone dealers and collectors have asked, "Why doesn't the colored stone industry promote itself the way DeBeers does for the diamond industry?" As readers of The Gemstone Forecaster are aware, colored stones are dramatically rarer than diamonds. However, it has been the phenomenal advertising might of the DeBeers cartel that has made diamonds the number one gemstone sought after by people worldwide. For years, we have been wondering or discussing how colored gemstones could be promoted. Every plan has disintegrated because of dealer infighting and different dealer agendas. In this case, the chairman of the promotion committee just happens to be a major ruby dealer! Plus, the amount of funds available for this project are abysmally low compared to any DeBeers campaign. However, The Gemstone Forecaster believes The International Colored Gemstone Association has finally made a first step in the right direction.

In May, 1996, The International Colored Gemstone Association launched the first promotional campaign to promote colored gemstones with a spectacular ten-million dollar museum-quality exhibition of rubies and ruby jewelry at the Couture Collection and Conference. The ruby exhibition then traveled to the JCK Show in Las Vegas. ICA also invited Town and Country and Vanity Fair to the show in hopes of creating a fashion editorial spread. The campaign will focus on promoting ruby for the 1996 holiday shopping season in the United States.

The ICA Ruby Collection displayed at the two shows included many important rubies and pieces of ruby jewelry. Exceptional individual rubies included many fine faceted gems of more than 10 carats. Jewelry displayed included a stunning set of ruby jewelry by Harry Winston, a necklace with matching earrings and bracelet, valued at $1.3 million dollars. A pair of cabochon ruby earrings displayed were once owned by Lana Turner. There were two pieces from the private museum collection of Van Cleef & Arpels, including a ruby palm tree and an invisible-set ruby bracelet. Jewelry styles ranged from the traditional to the avant-garde. Also included was the 8,500-carat Liberty Ruby, a ruby carved in the shape of the Liberty Bell. The Liberty Ruby, which is owned by the Kazanjian Foundation, is one of the largest rubies ever discovered. The collection featured many examples of ruby from mines around the world. The exhibition included a spectacular ruby crystal from Myanmar in addition to ruby carvings, cut rubies, ruby sets and pairs, ruby beads, and finished ruby jewelry.

"Although the ICA has been promoting gemstones for ten years through public relations efforts directed at the trade and consumer media, this is a major step forward for ICA and also for gemstones," said Cheryl Kremkow, ICA Gembureau director. "For the first time the association is developing a large-scale member-financed marketing program to support the sale of colored gemstones on many levels of the industry. This is the first effort of its kind for colored gemstones in the world. Colored gemstones will now join diamonds, gold, platinum, and pearls as a product that has marketing support from the producers on an international level."

The plan entails selecting a specific gemstone and target market each year and then promoting the gem to consumers. Then the campaign will rotate from continent to continent, species to species. Phase two of the campaign is to market this concept directly to the consumer. The plan is to advertise in upscale magazines before the Christmas season. All ICA members were asked to contribute an equal amount of their dues ($500) to the campaign. Ruby dealers contributed from two to six times their dues. The plan is to obtain from $700,00 to $1 million. It is rumored the main contributor is the Thai government. Last year, they spent $600,000 on their own sapphire campaign.


Food prices are surging for the first time in years, and more increases are ahead. Some economists are predicting food will rise nearly 6% this year, after increasing only 2% for years. Mediocre harvests and an export boom have shrunk food stocks. The reason food prices are not affecting the government's consumer price index (CPI) is that food only accounts for 10% of the index. Also, many producers and retailers are absorbing as much of the increases as possible. Here are year to year percentage increases, 1995-1996:

Grade AA Butter88%
Cheddar Cheese30%
White Bread7.4%
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Dept. of Agriculture, Chicago Board of Trade

The government has been telling us for years "inflation is dead". Most investors don't even consider inflation as a serious threat to their portfolio. However, consider this: The government has recently voted to raise the minimum wage from $4.25 per hour to $5.15. According to Economics 101, (something the politicians in Washington D.C. do not seem to understand) not only will jobs be lost, but if you raise wages, the cost of goods and services will rise accordingly. You are not going to see business absorb this increase. They will pass this additional cost on to the consumer. This is inflationary. Raising the minimum wage will not only cost jobs, it will cost customers in the pocketbook.

Although we expect a decrease in the price of gas soon at the pumps, the recent rise in gas is inflationary. Some people are paying close to $2.00 per gallon in California. This is the highest price for gasoline since the gas crisis of 1979. Crude oil is trading at around $22 per barrel. In 1979-1980 crude was almost $36 per barrel. Prices in America are going up. The average new car in America is now $20,000. The average cost of a new home in America is $125,000.00.

The government statistics say that inflation is a "moderate" 3-3.5%. I don't believe that number and neither should you. Let's face reality; the government has a vested interest in calculating inflation at a low rate. The lower the rate, the lower the percentage increase they have to pay for entitlements and the lower the percentage rate the government has to pay for interest on its debt. The major reason the government has been reducing the deficit is the government "rolled" a great deal of its debt into short-term notes, reducing the interest paid on its debt. This accounts for 70% of the reduction in the deficit since Clinton took office. It was not Clinton's tax increases that are responsible for the declining deficits. This accounting trick is simple "smoke and mirrors". As a wise man once said, "Any economist who believes inflation is around 3%, does not eat, drive a car, have a mortgage, or children." As insurance to protect your total portfolio, a small percentage of your assets should be in private and portable gemstones in the event inflation returns.


According to the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers, the following labs are being utilized by Canadian boiler-room scam operators to dupe American, European and Middle Eastern investors. These lab certificates say the gems are all 3.5 colors (or better) and LI clarity. If you submit these gems to the AGL, you will discover these stones are vastly over graded and overpriced. The labs are:

If you have gems with certs from these labs, we recommend you send your stones to:

Gemline Recovery Service
American Gemological Laboratories (AGL)
580 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10036

For more information visit Warning: Canadian Scams.


A 27.37 carat Burmese ruby ring sold for US$4 million at Sotheby's in Geneva in May, doubling its pre-sale estimate and setting the second-highest price ever paid for a ruby. The Burmese ruby was bought by a woman bidding by telephone. The sale also included another record price: A D-Flawless, pear-shaped diamond weighing 100.10 carats sold to Saudi Sheik Ahmed Fitaihi for $16.5 million, a world record price for any piece of jewelry. At the June sale, a 4.80 pear Faint Pink, VS, sold for $57,500.

In June in New York, a 1.15 rectangular Fancy Gray Blue, VS, sold for $29,900 per carat. A 2.00 round Fancy Gray Blue, VS, sold for $63,000 total.

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