Saturday, July 25, 2015

Ode to Tsavorite!

Ok, so there's no actual "Ode to Tsavorite". For those who know me, they'll understand that this is for the best, as my rhyming schemes are generally atrocious. I'll leave the poetry to John Keats & Co. However, that is not to say that it is unworthy of an ode. In fact, tsavorite is deservingly becoming one of the most popular green stones out there today; proving that the market is not restricted to "the big three" as it once was.
The Nature Collection designed by Martin Katz; tsavorite and diamond earrings. Photo courtesy of

Tsavorite is the name given to grossular garnet, one of the isomorphic series (something we'll learn about in a later entry) of the larger garnet family. It was named after the national park it was found in: Tsavo, Kenya. Perhaps other gemologists will agree with me when I say that I strongly associate tsavorite and tanzanite for two reasons: Firstly, they are from neighboring localities. Also, because they are relatively new additions to the gemstone world. Though found in the late 1960s, its current boom on the market is as recent as the last decade.

Typical tsavorite rough. Photo courtesy of

Like all garnets, tsavorite belongs to the cubic system which is why we find it in these neat-looking rough shapes, typically taken from metamorphic rocks. But as the photograph illustrates, the rough is generally quite small, which is why cut stones that are over 3 carats covet such a higher price. Of course, tsavorite is beautiful enough as the primary stone in jewelry, but due to this size constraint, we see a lot of colorful pavé that utilizes this stone.

Beautiful trilliant tsavorite, 1.62 tcw. Photo courtesy of Bergamot Gems. For inquires please contact
For me, what makes tsavorite special is the unique color that it possesses. Although people describe it simply as a forest green, I find that the finest specimens are neither too dark or too lightly saturated. What you want to look for is the color that exudes a lively, vibrant appearance. The trilliant pair pictured above are a fine example of this kind of color (for pricing inquiries, please contact us). While some purists will say that there is nothing compared to the blue-green hue of a lovely emerald, I think tsavorite has its own merit and makes its own case in the color department.

Large emerald and diamond ring designed by Lorraine Schwartz. Photo courtesy of
Large tsavorite and diamond ring designed by Tiffany & Co. Photo courtesy of
Since we're on the subject of emerald, we can also compare the clarity and general stability of these two green stones. While emerald is most appreciated (after the color) for the inclusions which suggest the locality they came from, tsavorite is typically clear of almost any inclusions. Because of this, tsavorite does not generally need to be treated, unlike emerald which is routinely oil or resin-filled to improve color and clarity.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: As beautiful and as diverse as the world of gemstones is, we find numerous examples of stones that are exceptional, but high-maintenance. What is just fantastic about tsavorite is the fact that without any intervention by humans or concern about fragility, this stone is both wonderfully saturated in color, and more readily available and affordable than some other green stones. So the real question remains: When will you get your tsavorite?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

#Throwback Jewelry: A Tribute to the Minoans

I recently read somewhere that Victorian era-inspired jewelry and even the antique jewelry from that period were making a significant comeback on the market. While reflecting on the time period that this jewelry was born out of, it occurred to me that like most art, jewelry styles are reflections of the their historical climate. If looked at closely, we find that different time periods and the people living in each of them are not so different from one another. Which is why we have created a series of entries which are designed to bring to light the similarities in jewelry trends which existed perhaps in a not-so-far-off-time from our own.

Our first entry looks back at some pretty great jewelry which was worn by those who came before the ancient Greeks: the Minoans, around 3000 BC. This is hardly the oldest jewelry known to us, only I felt that its main characteristics resonated with our present day. 

The Golden Bee Pendant, a fine example of Minoan jewelry at its apogee. Circa 1700 BC. Photo courtesy

Minoan jewelry is rather interesting when you take a close look at it. First off, you’ll notice that for the most part, it restricts itself to metalwork. It would only be later on with the emergence of the Myceneans and the Greeks that one would see intaglios made of gemstones. Much like the civilization itself, we find that the jewelry is a testament of the Minoans’ ability to exchange and take part in international trade (at least what was considered international at the time). 

A map of Minoan trade, detailing Import/Export. Photo Courtesy

Though thought to originate from Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), these island dwellers of Crete would have navigated the entire Mediterranean; as far West as Spain and as far East as Turkey. Along the way, their trade with surrounding civilizations would grant them access to materials and techniques from places as far as modern-day Egypt, India and even Russia. This is how, for instance, imported gold would be introduced to their arsenal of precious metals as early on as 2400BC. Goldsmithing techniques would also be shared; this is why, even beyond the sudden disappearance of this civilization in roughly 1500 BC, we still see motifs of filigree and granulation being used by succeeding civilizations. Later on, Alexander the Great, a successor to both the Minoans and Mycenaeans, would also contribute to this global trade. Best known for his long military and territorial expeditions to the furthest stretches of the Earth, this king created one of the largest empires in the ancient world. Exposure to foreign territories also gave ancient Greeks access to the gemstones which would characterize the Hellenistic period (approx. 300BC).

An armband with Herakles Knot consisting of garnet, emerald & enamel, Circa 3rd-2nd Century BC Fine example of Hellenistic jewelry from the time of Alexander the Great . Photo Courtesy of

When I say that this civilization and in turn their jewelry is similar to our present day, it's chiefly because our time is characterized by the globalization of people. From telecommunications and social media to international trade, we are remotely engaging with the world beyond our street, city, country even continent at a speed which has never been seen before. Interestingly, the trade in the raw materials used to make jewelry is as extensive and global today as it was 5000 years ago.