T for TanzaniteAnna S.
Tanzanite is a truly exotic gemstone. Existing in an amazing lush blue, vibrant violet, and rich purple color shades, it is found in only one place on the Earth – near faraway Mount Kilimanjaro.
Tanzanite is a violet blue to blue violet variety of the mineral called zoisite.
This gemstone is mined only in one place in the world: the Merelani Hills of Tanzania, which is where it got its name from.
Top-quality Tanzanite may be both in violetish blue color – very similar to a sapphire – or in a unique violet shade. Tanzanite is a pleochroic gem, meaning that it showcases different colors when looked at from different sides. It may look blue, violet or even burgundy depending on the crystal’s orientation.
This rich purple stone is a relatively new find. It was discovered only in 1967 – when a Masai tribesman came across the deposits of intense violetish blue crystals in the hills of Merelani in northern Tanzania. He told about his discovery to Manuel d’Souza – a local fortune hunter – who hoped that they’d found a new deposit of sapphires.
Instead, the deposit contained Tanzanites.
However, the gem got its name only a year later, in 1968. At that time Tiffany&Co. became its main distributor and named the gem after the country it came from.
Immediately, Tanzanite became mega popular among jewelry designers, gem professionals, gem lovers and other customers – mostly for its vivid color, high clarity and large size.
An interesting fact: the biggest Tanzanite ever is a single large crystal of 16,839 ct (weighing more than 3kg). It’s named “The Mawenzi” after Kilimanjaro’s second highest peak.
Although Tanzanite was discovered relatively recently, it’s been attributed with bringing good luck and prosperity, and associated with celebrations of new life and new beginnings. For example, Maasi people believe that blue color is sacred and spiritual. They also have a tradition to give a tanzanite to Maasai women after the birth of a child as an offering of health, positive energy and prosperity to the child.
Tanzanite is a pleochroic gemstone, meaning it showcases different colors when looked at from different angles. That’s why cutting is a crucial element in determining the color of the gem in a jewelry piece.
Due to tanzanite’s strong pleochroism, cut pieces typically demonstrate a wide range of both blue and violet hues. As with most colored gemstones, paler colors are more available and affordable than more saturated ones.
Many tanzanites sold in jewelry have inclusions seen only under magnification. Eye-visible inclusions evidently lead to the drop in value.
Cutting is an extremely important process in tanzanite’s color display, that determines the gem’s overall shade. In fact, cutting tanzanite to emphasize its purple color is easier than to reveal a violetish blue color. That’s why violet-purple tanzanites are more plentiful than those with a stronger blue color component.
Tanzanite is available in a wide variety of sizes. The finest and deepest colors are usually seen in sizes over 5 ct. Smaller stones are often less intense.
Reuven’s comment / Expert’s comment / Reuven telling / Expert’s advice
“Tanzanite made a giant leap in the 90s, becoming insanely popular. For example, in the USA Tanzanites were sold almost at the price of sapphires. Although there was a slight decline later, Tanzanites are still beautiful and popular.
Tanzanites commonly have a slight purple hue, but the ones that only reveal a blue shade are a great alternative to sapphires even today”.