Wondering about the differences between emeralds and tsavorites?
Perfect, I got you! In this post, we'll dive in and compare these two gorgeous green stones and answer popular questions like:
- Where do emeralds get their color from?
- Are tsavorites lab grown?
- Are green garnets and tsavorites the same thing?
- Are synthetic emeralds rare?
- Why does the price range for emeralds vary so much?
Main Differences Between Tsavorites vs Emeralds
- A tsavorite is a type of garnet, whereas an emerald is a type of beryl.
- Tsavorite garnets aren't usually treated, whereas most emeralds have received gemstone treatments.
- Tsavorite garnets can be light green to dark green, whereas emeralds come in medium to dark tones.
- Tsavorite garnets are semi-precious stones, whereas emeralds are precious stones.
- Tsavorite garnets cost hundreds per carat, whereas high-quality emeralds can cost thousands per carat.
- Pure green tsavorites are the most valuable, whereas bluish green Colombian emeralds are the most valuable.
- Tsavorites have a more brilliant sparkle and higher refractive index, whereas emeralds doesn't reflect light or sparkle as well.
Origin and Formation of Tsavorite vs Emerald
Their colors may be the same, but both emeralds and tsavorites come from very different places. Let's check it out.
Most people are familiar with garnet and know it as the red colored January birthstone. Though red garnets are predominantly available in fine jewelry retail stores, other varieties of the garnet family go through life virtually unseen.
Did you know that the garnet mineral group can be a variety of different colors? Not only that, but there are different blends and species of garnet that fall under the same color variety. Green garnets are a great example of this.
Different garnet species can produce green garnet gemstones. The most well-known green garnet stones are:
- Demantoid Garnet
- Grossular Garnet
- Tsavorite Garnet
- Hydrogrossular Garnet
- Mali Garnet
Due to their rarity, a lot of people don't know about the existence of these green colored gems. Green garnets are found in a few places in the world including:
Tsavorite is a variety of grossular garnet and one of the very popular green garnet species. Most tsavorites are green, but can also have secondary hues of yellow, blue, or brown. Pure green tsavorite with little to no secondary colors is considered best quality. However, the shade of tsavorite you choose is up to you.
Tsavorite garnets form under geological conditions known as metasomatism. This happens when hot fluids mix with rocks containing elements of calcium, aluminum, and silicon. They get green hues from traces of chromium and vanadium, two of the same elements used to produce emerald's green hues.
An emerald is the most popular green gemstone chosen for an engagement ring due to its striking color and rich history. Emeralds have been around for ages, just like garnets. But emeralds are one of the four most precious gemstones in the world alongside sapphires, rubies, and diamonds.
Emeralds come from the gemstone family of the mineral beryl, which is responsible for other popular gemstones like morganites and aquamarines. Emerald is the dark green variety of beryl, not to be confused with green beryl, the light green variety.
Emeralds typically form in hydrothermal veins that are cavities within metamorphic or igneous rocks such as schist, gneiss, slate, and granite. These cavities are filled with liquids and minerals. When the fluids cool and the minerals needed to create emeralds gets dissolved, they begin to crystallize.
Read also: Aquamarine Engagement Rings
Emerald jewelry has been a favorite throughout history to royals and people of high status. One of the most notable ones being the beautiful and elegant Cleopatra. Though emeralds rarely come from Egyptian deposits anymore, they are found in a number of different countries including:
Tsavorite vs Emerald Appearance
Though both stones are green, there are different hues you can find in each one. Let's explore the color quality and clarity of emerald vs tsavorite.
Grading the color of emeralds can be very complex, which is one of the reason why their prices have such a large range. Faceted emeralds are usually translucent to transparent, with the best stones being the latter.
Read also: How to Tell if an Emerald is Real
Fine color emeralds should have medium tone with 10-15% bluish green secondary hues. These are the traditional look for the coveted Colombian emeralds. Other emeralds may appear apple green, dark green, or a bright blue green color. Emeralds may also have yellowish green secondary hues which aren't as valuable, but still appealing to many.
Emeralds are one of the few gemstones whose quality isn't highly impacted by the presence of inclusions. Of course, natural emeralds with high clarity are rare and expensive. But the type of inclusions in emeralds are described as an aesthetic.
They are give the nickname "jardin", which is French for "garden." This was to describe the way the inclusions in an emerald looked like a web of vines growing inside the emerald crystal.
The best shape to show the emerald green shade of this gorgeous May birthstone is the emerald cut. The flat table and wide surface area of emerald cut stones are best for revealing its color distribution and saturation.
Natural untreated emeralds are extremely rare. You can expect that all majority of natural emerald gemstones in the jewelry market have been treated to improve color or clarity. Some gemstone treatments are considered acceptable and don't have a big impact on price or value. Heat treated or irradiated emerald treatments are considered normal and permanent.
But not all emerald treatments are okay. One of the most common emerald treatments is oiling. Oiling can greatly improve the color of emeralds, but it isn't permanent. There are different levels of oiling. Oiling has to be redone by a jeweler once it fades, so its better to choose emeralds that don't have heavy oiling.
High quality blue green untreated emeralds are the most rare and valuable.
Synthetics and Imitations
Synthetic emeralds are different from treated natural emeralds. These are emeralds that have been created in a laboratory environment instead of mined from the earth. Scientists are able to re-create emeralds by simulating the conditions needed to produce emeralds.
By adding trace elements of chromium and vanadium, they are able to produce synthetic emeralds with the same properties as mined emeralds. Additionally, most emeralds produced in a lab have much better clarity and transparency than natural transparent emerald gems. Instead of the traditional inclusions of vines, lab created emeralds generally have smaller needle like impurities in their crystals. These aren't visible to the naked eye.
Other green gems and green colored materials are often used to simulate emeralds. Glass and green colored cubic zirconia (CZ) are the most common simulants. Other stones may be tsavorite garnet, demantoid garnet, epidote, malachite, or green sapphire.
As you can see, there's a lot of green garnet species. Different green garnet varieties will produce different green hues. Demantoid garnets get their green hues from chromium. Tsavorite garnets get their emerald green color from trace amounts of chromium and vanadium, just like a real emerald stone.
Both Mali garnet and topazolite garnets produce a yellow green color. For Mali garnets, the yellowish green stones are the most valuable. Hydrogrossular garnets produce opaque light green gemstones that can imitate jade colors.
One of the biggest reasons people choose tsavorites is because they're a more affordable alternative to emeralds. Tsavorite garnet has emerald green hues with perfect saturation to simulate and can have the 10-15% bluish green hues that Colombian emeralds have. These can only be found in East Africa.
As far as brilliance goes, you can expect tsavorite garnets to sparkle because of their high refractive index. This is one of the advantages they have over emeralds. The fire is best seen in light green and bright green hues. Dark green gemstones will detract from the brilliance. But if dark green hues are your thing, just be aware that's the trade you make. They still make gorgeous green gems.
The clarity of garnets change within the species and varieties. Red garnets often have high clarity, whereas orange garnets have lots of inclusions. Green garnets fall somewhere between. Demantoid garnets are known for having interesting horsetail inclusions that give the green stone character instead of detracting.
Unlike emeralds, garnets are rarely ever subjected to gemstone treatments. In fact, their crystal structure creates a crusty residue when heated like many other gemstones are.
Synthetics and Imitations
Lab created tsavorites and other green garnets are available, but generally at places like Etsy. Being a semi precious stone, you're not likely to find natural or synthetic tsavorites in fine jewelry stores. Lab created green garnet is going to be very cheap and have all the same properties as their natural versions.
Tsavorites are beautiful green gemstones in their own right, but many choose them to imitate the look of an emerald. There are other gemstone and gem materials that can be crafted to imitate a green garnet. It's not often another green gemstone impersonates a green garnet, but more likely to be green glass or radiant green colored cubic zirconia.
Tsavorite vs Emerald: Rarity, Value, and Cost
If you're comparing price, you can figure that a garnet (which is what a tsavorite is) can't hold a torch to the mega popular precious stone, emerald. The price of an emerald outshines tsavorite by a long shot.
But for those who are looking for a green stone specifically, that just means that buying tsavorite vs emerald can save you money in the long run.
Tsavorite garnet stone doesn't usually receive any kind of gemstone treatment. So you don't have to worry about upkeep in order for your stone.
Tsavorite garnet is less expensive than high quality emerald. Tsavorite garnets are more expensive than some other garnet varieties, but still a far cry from a natural untreated emerald.
The cost per carat range for a 1 carat tsavorite garnet can range from $100-$1000 per carat. Lab created garnets can be created through different processes to create a replica gemstone that has the same structure as a natural tsavorite.
Though scientists are able to tell a mined tsavorite from a created one, you make sure you're being sold the right one. A gemstone certificate from a reliable lab would be ideal.
Determining the value and price of an emerald is very difficult, which is why they have emerald specialists to do so. If you're paying a high price for a loose natural emerald, it's absolutely essential to have a gemstone certificate verifying the quality of your emerald from a reliable laboratory, like GIA certification. This can help you make sure you don't get ripped off as well as disclose any treatments that have been done to your emerald.
Emeralds are the highest prices when transparent with the bluish green hues of Colombian emeralds without treatments. A treated emerald stone like this would go between $9,000 to $13,000 per carat at best clarity. On the other hand, a 3 carat Colombian emerald with no oil treatment would go for $82,000.
Emeralds that aren't transparent and have more translucency can go for around $500 for a one carat stone. These are always treated to improve color, but are still real emeralds.
Though all green garnets are considered rare, they don't come at the same kind of prices high quality emeralds do. The price will increase quickly as the carat weight increases with green garnet. Green garnets with a saturated green color and balanced tone are most desirable.
Demantoid garnets weighing 1 carat can go for around $1200. High quality well-cut demantoids can go for more.
High quality tsavorite garnets can run around $800 for a one carat green stone. One with bluish green hues can go for more.
As for other types of garnets, 1-carat mint green Merelani garnets can go for around $200. Quite a bargain for a rare shade of green garnet. Other yellow green grossular garnets can go for around $600 for a 1 carat green gemstone.
Finally, the extremely rare uvarovite comes in at the very affordable $2 per carat of apple green druzy crystal specimens.
Hardness, Durability and Wearability
Tsavorite measures at a 7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale. That means this green stone is good enough to be worn in any kind of jewelry setting. It can stand up to daily dirt and dust, which sits at about a 5,5-6.5. They also have good resistance to chipping and breaking.
And since most good quality tsavorite doesn't have a bunch of inclusions, it doesn't have the same vulnerability to chipping as an emerald engagement ring, which we'll get into in a bit.
An emerald engagement ring is a popular gemstone alternative to diamonds. However, it's not as durable. Still, it's possible for emeralds to last years and years with the proper care and protection.
You don't have to worry about heat or sunlight damaging emeralds, though we don't really recommend wearing any precious gemstones or semi precious gemstones in prolonged sunlight. They also have a better scratch resistance than green garnets.
Emeralds are considered a hard stone, but not a particularly hard gemstone like a diamond, sapphire, or ruby gemstone. On the Mohs hardness scale, emeralds rate a 7.5-8.
Common inclusions in most gemstones don't have a big impact on durability so long as they aren't surface inclusion, often called blemishes. The same is true for a diamond. But emeralds have so many inclusions (unless you have an expensive high clarity emerald or a less expensive transparent lab emerald), it can leave vulnerabilities to chipping and cleaving if accidentally struck.
For this reason, it's advisable to make sure the corners of your emerald engagement rings are properly protected with a prong setting or bezel setting. Low impact jewelry like emerald earrings or emerald necklaces don't have to worry about this so much.
But vulnerabilities aside, you can't deny the jardin makes an emerald a distinguished stone.
Conclusion: Two Fabulous Green Gemstones
Both emeralds and tsavorites are beautiful and unique, each in their own way. From the small range of hues of emeralds to the many different hues of tsavorites, there's a green stone for you.
Both green gems are suitable for every day wear, though extra care should be given to emerald engagement rings with protective settings.
I hope you've learned the differences between emeralds and tsavorites as well as the pros and cons of each stone. You should feel confident in knowing the difference between green garnets and emeralds.