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African Gems

With the Tiffany & Co. Foundation Endowment, the Smithsonian was able to acquire two important gems for the National Gem Collection: a 15.93 carat tsavorite garnet and a 40.10 carat tourmaline. Tsavorite is a highly prized gem variety of grossular garnet. It was first discovered in 1967 near Kenya's Tsavo National Park. This region on the Kenya-Tanzania border remains the only source of gem tsavorite. The most valuable tsavorites are an intense green to blue-green and can sometimes be confused with emerald. This tsavorite exhibits a highly-prized vivid green color. It is large in size for a tsavorite and represents a significant upgrade for the National Gem Collection. The 40.10 carat tourmaline is from a recent find in Mozambique. Tourmaline gems are found in the complete range of the color spectrum, in exquisite shades unlike any other gem material. This gem exhibits an intense purple color that is very rare for tourmaline. Commonly, tourmalines of this color from Mozambique are heat-treated to turn them a neon blue color similar to the rare and valuable Paraiba tourmalines of Brazil. This gem was not heat treated, probably due to the natural inclusions that would not withstand the heat without shattering the stone, or perhaps because of its particular intense and attractive natural color. Rare in both size and color, and a recent find from an interesting locality, this tourmaline is a wonderful addition to the National Gem Collection.

Image Number: Chip Clark
Catalog Number: G10525, G10530
Weight: 15.93, 40.10 carats
Gift of Tiffany & Co. Foundation , 2006-2007

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