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Tsavorite, the green gold of Kenya

The history of the famous Tsavo stone, increasingly rare and precious

05-05-2021 di redazione

Tsavorite, the green stone named after the Tsavo National Park, was discovered in 1967 by the Scottish geologist Campbell Bridges.
Since then it is more and more famous abroad than in Kenya and Tanzania, the only countries where it is found.
Legend has it that the geologist, who lived in Tanzania and owned a reserve on the Kenyan border, as well as a consultant to Tiffany, was walking in the savannah when a buffalo tried to load it.
For escaping the animal and saving his life, Campbell took shelter in a rocky crack of the ground where, waiting for the buffalo to leave, he discovered a bright green rock.
Intent on saving his own skin and worried about the coming of darkness, he was unable to extract a sample, but remained convinced that he had discovered something very similar to emerald.
Meanwhile, Tanzanian President Nyerere nationalized the reserves and many British citizens were forced to move to nearby Kenya.
It was there that the geologist, resuming his research, discovered a deposit of these precious stones in an impassable area behind the hills of Taita, in the Tsavo Park.
He acquired the land and built a rudimentary tree house to defend himself from the ferocious animals.
From his stories we learn that it was a large python that was guarding him and that in his reserve there were two almost domesticated leopards.
Since then the commercialization of the Kenyan stone has begun and other prospectors, driven by possible earnings, have also set out in search of the so-called "green gold".
It was the president of the famous American maison who coined the term "Tsavorite" after a safari in the stone quarrying areas.
Over the years Campbell also resisted attempts to loot by bandits and smugglers, until in 2009, at the age of 71, he was killed in an ambush set up by twenty or so bandits who wanted to exploit his mining concession. Today the extraction of the tsavorite is followed by his son Bruce, but it proceeds with great difficulty, and there are no other areas in the world where this stone is present, and even in Tanzania it seems to be unobtainable. Precisely for this reason its price is constantly rising. Who knows that the new mining laws of Kenya could not develop the research and extraction of Tsavorite.
The peculiarities of Kenyan stone are the brilliant shades of green. Like all other garnets, the Tsavorite has a high refractive index to light. Unlike other stones, it does not need any treatment to make it brighter, it is not heated or even immersed in oil. Its hardness is similar to that of emerald, but it is more resistant to impact. Compared to emerald it is also easier to cut and less prone to accidental damage. Usually the stones are small, it is rare to find rough stones larger than 5 carats. 


 

TAGS: tsavotirepietre preziose kenyagemme kenya

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