The cheapest stones are nice but you wonder what all the fuss is about until you see the violet/blue at its best.  It is then you know what a magnificent stone this tanzanite is.  It is simply superb and you want to just turn it around and gaze into it.

Discovered in 1967, tanzanite is a variety of zoisite and it looks a lot like sapphire and in fact when it was first found it was thought to be sapphire.  In gem speak 1967 is yesterday!  How could such a wonderful gemstone be found so recently?

The stone is a natural crystal which is yellow through to reddish brown in its natural state. But it needs heat and lots of it to make it a fantastic blue colour.  Story has it that after a lightning strike some Massai herdsmen found this beautiful blue crystal stone in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in Northern Tanzania.

True or not the fact is it isn’t found anywhere else on earth and since it was only found recently it is in short supply, or at least the best quality stones are. 

Two years after it was discovered the New York jeweller Tiffany decided to put it on the world gem map.  They promoted it heavily and now it is recognized as a prized gem.

Some gems around the world are involved in what is termed Conflict Gems or Blood Diamonds is another term.  This is where the gems are mined under duress by the local population or slaves and often the money is used to promote terrorism.  Tanzanite seems to be clear of any such problems.

Tanzanite is mostly mined by small mining operations and the sellers of the stone are mostly registered traders who have their markets in Europe and the USA.  This is a good thing and gives the buyer comfort.  Tanzanite has had its share of control.  The Tanzanian government interfered with its cutting at one stage and other large companies have attempted to control its trade in some ways.  There was also a flood through the mining area which killed about one hundred miners and halted production.  So it is a rare stone.

There is an abundance of the light coloured stone and it is quite cheap and doesn’t look anything special.  The larger and better coloured stones are rare and naturally are expensive.  The better colours are the mid to dark blues with shifts of purple in them.

Tanzanite is a soft stone and this has some downside.  It will scratch and chip easier than other top gemstones so it is wise to think about the type of jewellery that you have it set in and the way you treat it.  For instance it is best worn in earrings where it is out of harm’s way.  If you wear it in a ring then be careful as it may not last if it is constantly being knocked against furniture and other things.  So as a wedding ring worn all the time it is almost certainly going to get damaged.

 Tanzanite is an absolutely magnificent gemstone.  It is right up there in quality and price at its highest level.  It is stunning and rare.  It is enhanced when alongside other gems such as opals and diamonds and it is breathtaking when set in platinum.

Author: Gary Hocking