Tsavorite has always mesmerized its beholder, ever since it was discovered in the late 1960’s. It holds all the attributes of a world class gemstone and gemologically it compares very favorably to its green counterpart, Emerald. It is brighter, due to a high Refractive Index (1.74) in contrast to Emerald’s relatively sleepy appearance as a result of a lower RI (1.58). It has double the dispersion of Emerald and is rarer.
However, it has not had the meteoric rise in the marketplace’s affections that Tanzanite has. Principally, this is due to the fact that Tsavorite is rarely found in fine qualities, especially in larger sizes. Even fine 2 carat pieces are difficult to get. This has made it a difficult gemstone to promote in the market. Jewelers want to be able to source a stone for a client if they suggest it. Hence, Emerald, being more available and plentiful in the market has always been a better choice as a green gemstone for a jeweler trying to make a sale.
The price of fine Tsavorite is approximately a quarter of fine Emerald. This premium is mostly as a result of Emerald’s cache – the fact that it has been known to man for hundreds of years and its name evokes certain preconceived values. Tsavorite, being rarer was only discovered less than half a century ago and doesn’t have this advantage. Similarly, its penetration into the marketplace was severely hampered by the very rarity that makes it so desireable as it was little known to the public. Obviously, this situation has changed much over the years and Tsavorite is much better recognized now, but its rarity is still holding it back in terms of achieving its full potential.
The above graph, sourced from JCK Magazine illustrates the situation. On all counts, except public awareness and current price, Tsavorite outdoes Emerald. As anyone conversant with basic economic theory will attest, public awareness affects demand which directly affects price. Hence, Tsavorite’s price point could be very positively affected by an increase in public awareness.
This may be about to happen. TanzaniteOne – the largest Tanzanite Miner and marketer has recently begun a large Tsavorite mining project in Tanzania. Under the name TsavoriteOne Mining Ltd, they have bought up mining concessions from Kirkwood Resources and Green Hill Mining Ltd and combined them to make the largest Tsavorite mine, with a licence area covering 100 square kilometers. With plans to invest heavily in the mining and marketing of the gemstone, TsavoriteOne has the ability to remove this last impediment to Tsavorite’s accession in the marketplace and make the gem more available. Public exposure to Tsavorite is about to increase hugely. With public exposure comes an increase in demand which could lead to an increase in price. Tsavorite lovers and investors may want to watch this development with interest.
How does this affect Lapigems?
Tanzanite One has clearly followed the established De Beers business model to date and there is no reason to suggest that their foray into Tsavorite mining and marketing will be any different. This model is a classic "pull marketing" approach where demand is created in the consumer market by huge publicity and promotion and the creation of a cache for the gem. The "Be Born to Tanzanite" campaign that sought to make Tanzanite the gem to buy at the birth of your first child is a classic duplication of De Beers' very successful drive to make Diamonds synonymous with engagements, hence creating an enduring and profoundly deep market for the gem. A similar approach can be expected for Tsavorite, thus creating the cache that Tsavorite lacks in the marketplace and removing Emerald's last trump card over it.
For a specialist company like Lapigems, this is an exciting development. We are uniquely positioned to take advantage of this for the benefit of our worldwide clientele. Tsavorite One only controls a very small proportion of the total Tsavorite mining area, and Lapigems has close relationships with the other small scale miners in the region, meaning our ability to source the very finest Tsavorites will remain unhampered but the stone's overall popularity is set to soar. Additionally, the Tanzanian deposits generally produce a lighter color with a strong yellow modifer, whereas the original Kenyan deposits in Tsavo produce a more pure green, meaning a higher percentage of the very finest stones will still remain on this side of the border.
Further Reading on this Topic
Mining Weekly Article
Lapigems Gem Company
Tsavorite One Press Release