Color-change garnet

Rare color-change garnet in G&G

A new color-change garnet deposit was discovered late 2011 in the province of Lindi (southern Tanzania). A few nice pieces were discovered including a very rare and impressive 11.73 cts gem. The deposit produced gems for only a short period of time (a few weeks). Swala Gem Traders bought rough during the entire production but only a few gems were large enough to cut center pieces. The 11.73 cts piece is not only very large but the color change is impressive, the stone is eye clean, well cut and polished. A fine collector’s item.

The full article can be found by clicking here

Swala in Condé Nast Traveler

Swala in Condé Nast Traveler

Christian Wright from the Condé Nast Traveler contacted us a few months ago as she was writing an article pertaining to gems being purchased during a trip abroad.

Many tourists who visit Tanzania plan to leave the country with a tanzanite or two. Unfortunately there are many frauds; from people buying badly cut stones, highly included gems to synthetic forsterite, glass or even plastic.

Based on our experience, Eric, from Swala Gem Traders, was quoted saying the following:

“Unlike the diamond industry, which is tightly regulated and sets uniform prices for grades of stones (see “From the Mine to Your Finger”), the colored gemstone business can seem like a free-for-all. There is no standard grading system for color, cut, and clarity, so pricing can be arbitrary and fraud is common when you’re not purchasing from established dealers. “It’s very easy for someone on the street to sell a piece of glass for $500 to a tourist who thinks it’s a fantastic deal,” says Eric Saul, of Swala Gem Traders in Tanzania, whose father introduced tanzanite to Tiffany & Co. in the 1960s. “Nobody’s going to buy a $200,000 Chevrolet, but they’ll pay a lot of money for a piece of glass if they don’t know any better.”


The full article, which we encourage you to read, can be found by clicking here 

rare tsavorites

A very rare tsavorites production

We recently purchased a very nice lot of rare tsavorites from the … tanzanite mines in Mererani! The miners were trying to produce Tanzanites, and ran into a series of exceptional Tsavorite pockets! Green grossular garnets, also known as mint garnets, are sometimes produced in Mererani (a few huge pieces have been mined in the past). However, these garnets are true tsavorites which is very unusual. Indeed, quite a few of these tsavorites are of the very finest color, absolutely beautiful! They are neither too light nor too dark. The color comes close to what I would call a “pure” green. Indeed, garnets are singly refractive, and in this particular case it is hard to describe yellow or blue as being secondary colors. A huge asset compared to emeralds! The references of these gems are from 10951 to 11000. These rare tsavorites each weigh between 1 and 2 cts. We’ve cut a few big pieces (above 4 carats).

To see another article and learn more about tsavorite on our website, it’s right here!

Demantoid garnets

A few new African demantoid garnets for sale

We’ve uploaded a few new African demantoid garnets and thought we would quickly write about them. Top demantoids are very expensive and will put a very serious dent in most wallets. We consider that the ones we’ve uploaded are nicely priced considering their characteristics.
The colors of these demantoid garnets are average to nice (a strong yellow component is usually not what people are looking for). However, all these gems are beautifully cut and polished. Cut is very important for demantoids as their dispersion is high. They are rather clean. Most importantly, their weights are important. Demantoids are usually not found in large sizes and weights are important in determining their prices.

A nice 3.79 cts pear shaped demantoid. The gem is green with a yellow component.

A nice 3.79 cts pear shaped demantoid. The gem is green with a yellow component.

Stunning combination

A stunning combination

Swala Gem Traders has pulled out a beautiful authentic Paraiba Tourmaline from its stock to match it with a superb high end Mahenge Spinel. We wanted to share this rare color and stunning combination with you.

Stunning combination

This is a real Paraiba Tourmaline from Brazil. It was mined around 1991. It is beautiful, clean and rare. Exclusive. The spinel is from Mahenge and was mined in 2009.

Stunning combination

Both gems are well cut and clean. The colors of the two gemstones are superb.

Stunning combination

Ngorongo crater sunset (northern Tanzania).

high end tsavorites

High end tsavorites production

Swala Gem Traders is pleased to announce that they recently purchased a large amount of very high end tsavorites. Those tsavorites are very rare in quality. The quantity produced is also quite unusual.

These “top of the crop” tsavorites display a hue which is pure green. The gems are neither too dark, nor not too light. They are vivid and liverly. Most tsavorites from this production are very clean, which is also not common for green garnets (expected to have inclusions).

high end tsavorites


We hope you will find something which you will enjoy.

high end tsavorites


To learn more about tsavorites on our website, it’s right here!

Swala buy online


Dear friends and customers,

At last, gems to buy online!

In our business, one often hears “FROM THE MINE TO YOUR RING!”. At Swala Gem Traders, this phrase corresponds to reality. Our gems come from our own mines or are purchased from African small miners at our buying office in northern Tanzania. Many of the rough stones are then cut by our own cutters.

In the past, our business was focused on wholesale exports of rough stones and on retail sales to visitors to our shops in East Africa. But in keeping with the times, we have decided to sell a selection of cut gems online. So wherever you are, from Omaha to Osaka, you will be able to benefit from the most direct of all possible routes.

We carry a wide variety of gemstones ranging from splendid spinels, tsavorites, tanzanites fit for a king (or for a princess if you have no kings in your family) to the less rare and more affordable amethysts and red garnets (many of which are also splendid, for when it comes to gems, as in so much else, beauty resides in the eye of the beholder).

We have tried to be as accurate as possible in our descriptions and the pictures posted on our site but please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or requests. Welcome, or “Karibu”, as we say in Tanzania!

Mark and Eric SAUL – ICA Ambassador to Tanzania


A new spessartite discovery by the Serengeti

In October 2007, my brother Mark called while I was travelling in Europe to let me know he suspected that Tanzania was unveiling yet another gem deposit. “I think we’re on top of something big again. An important spessartite discovery seems to have taken place in the northern part of the country”. His call came right after a few Maasai herdsmen had popped by our Arusha office. But their information was vague and needed to be confirmed…

Confirmation came quickly. The new spessartites came from Loliondo, close to Serengeti National Park and only 7 kilometers away from the Kenyan border. A few years ago, aquamarines had been found and briefly mined in that area.

Rough spessartite garnet

Mark had spent ten exhausting days in the bush in August purchasing what is now believed to be the most important spinel discovery recorded. At that time he had imagined he would be gone a couple of days and had packed a small bag accordingly. Instead he had ended up spending ten days purchasing spinel in Mahenge area. And here we were again. But before we could really think about organizing a new buying trip, the staircase of our office building filled up with Maasai waiting to show us their spessartite garnets. These men had left their cattle at the village in order to rush to the new find. News can travel very quickly in Maasailand… Not one of these Maasai had ever heard of spessartite prior to the discovery. Most had never even handled a gem before. Mark rapidly identified the stones and told the first Maasai that these orange gems were spessartite garnets. Within hours, Maasai were pouring into our office trying to sell their “special types”, “space types”, “spacetites”, “spestites”…

A 12 cts cut spessartite garnet. One of the first spessartites to have been cut from this discovery

As had been the case with the spinel discovery, the spessartites attracted amateur prospectors from all over. Much to our amusement, one of our former watchmen, a Maasai himself, walked into our office one day with a bag full of various sized spessartites. He and plenty of other self-appointed brokers have no experience. Nice clean gems are often mixed with poorly crystallized or unclean material. Prices often need some adjustment…

A spessartite crystal weighing a bit under a kilogram... Spessartite crystals of more than a kilo have been found

Generally speaking, the colors of the Loliondo spessartites are very lively. They are as nice as the Nigerian material. Big pieces are rare, especially the clean ones. A very large proportion (99%) of these spessartites are included and are perfect material for bead or cabochon.