Tanzanite is a rare gem with a unique beauty. It seems to radiate all the naturally occurring shades of blue at the same time.

tanzanite natural

It mixes inside the colors of two of the most popular stones - sapphire and amethyst. Its color is violet-blue to purple. Rarely it is almost blue, a common color is purple. Basically it is the tricolor and in bright light various shading from blue to violet can be seen.

The mineral was discovered in 1967 by African herders of the Masai tribe. In the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro they accidentally came across glade charred after the fire, where in some places unusual stones violet-red color were showing from the. One of the herders took a stone and carried it to the Manuel de Sousa - prospector, searching for rubies and sapphires at that place. Originally the stone was taken for unusually colored sapphire. But a careful analysis shows that this is quite a new unknown variety of zoisite. This finding was seen by many experts as the discovery of the century.

tanzanite monocrystal

Tanzanite would have remained unknown if it did not caught the eye of the vice-president of Tiffany Henry Platt who appreciated its unique beauty. Actually, it was Tiffany and made of the nondescript mineral a real star. When in the 70s there the first Tiffany collection with the stone was presented it is first positioned as a sapphire imitator. Clearly in this humble role, it was unlikely the stone to achieve success. And that the German gemologist German Bank suggested the name "Tanzanite”. “Tiffany" advertisers immediately seized on the idea: the new name exactly coincided with the first wave of African ethno fashion. Next the competent policy of the providers did not allow overstocking of the market and as a result the price of tanzanite overtook the blue sapphire which it used to "imitate".

tanzanite oval cut


tanzanite gems
tanzanite oval cut


There are two factors that explain the high interest in tanzanite and the growing of its price. First - it is extremely rare. Tanzanite is mined only in the province of Arusha in northern Tanzania. Although there are other varieties of zoisite widespread, tanzanite is found only here on the plateau Merelani.  The origin of tanzanite is explained with the clash of ancient continents occurring in this part of the world some 580 million years ago (here goes the Great African Rift). Scientists believe the conditions under which the stone was formed are so unique that the chances of finding this gem elsewhere are practically zero. Thus it supplies are limited and are nearing exhaustion: it makes sense to stock up on the stone as a future rarity. And the second reason for the popularity of tanzanite is its unique deep sky-blue color - experts say that this is the color of the sky over Mount Kilimanjaro where the stone came from.

tanzanite many gems

Tanzanite color depends on its size. The larger is the stone, the juicier is the color. Most valued is so-called "royal" tanzanite. At sunlight they have deep blue hue with nice lavender glow. Tanzanite has also "alexandrite" effect - it changes color depending on the angle of view, being in fact the tricolor. The bright blue cloudless sky, lilac purple southern nights, brown-yellow savannah, bright green palm leaf, golden sun - Africa itself is reflected in this amazing mineral. Blue and purple are the main hues only in those stones that are found on the surface of the earth - this kind of "tan" mineral acquires heating in the burning rays of the equatorial sun.

tanzanite different colours

The largest tanzanite crystal, about the size of a brick and weighing 16839 carats or 3.36 kg was found in 2005. And the largest faceted tanzanite weighing 242 carats is tiara "Queen of Kilimanjaro" in the frame of 913 diamonds. Gorgeous faceted tanzanite weighing 122.7 carats is deposited in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution.

tanzanite jewel

The color of the majority (about 95%) of the mined tanzanite today is unattractive yellowish-brown. A special heating process (annealing) to 400-650 ° C leads to a decrease of the unwanted hues in the color of the stone and the appearance of beautiful shades of blue and purple. This color change occurs when the stone is annealed for one hour at 375 ° C, or for only a few minutes after annealing at temperature of 600 ° C. Further heating causes discoloration crystals.

Tanzanite can be faceted in different shapes.  There are stones with cat's eyes effect which are cut cabochons. The stone is very fragile and requires great care when cutting. Moreover the jewelry with tanzanite can not by cleaned in the ultrasonic bath or in acidic media, but only in the soap solution. This gem is vulnerable, so the jewelry with it are not meant for everyday wear.

tanzanite different cuts

The popularity of tanzanite continues to grow not only because of its success in the market, but also because of the stone. Tanzanite is actually much rarer than diamonds and high quality samples are more difficult to be found because of the rarity of the stone. This gemstone definitely has its place among precious stones connoisseurs. According to the forecasts mines in northern Tanzania will be exhausted within 15 years, so investing in tanzanite now certainly worth, especially in large, high quality and vivid stones.


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