iconTanzanite Gemstones (Information, Facts, Lore, History, Myths)

It is but true that we cannot help but feel intrigue for anything that is rare and exceptional. And if it is something to do with gemstones then our interest in the particular thing increases manifold. The lovely and lustrous tanzanite is one such gemstone that is highly sought after not only for its beauty but also its rarity. Yes, tanzanites are one of the rarest of all gemstones and are mined only in one place in the entire world.

The stunning violet blue tanzanites get their name from Tanzania the only place in the world where deposits of this breathtaking gemstone is found and mined. Another interesting fact about tanzanites is that they are the most recent entrant in the world of gemstones and are often referred to as the ‘Gemstone of the 20th Century’. However, in spite of being the latest rage in gemstones tanzanites have managed to carve a place for themselves and have won the hearts of many gemstone and jewelry lovers from across the world.   

The story about how tanzanites were first discovered is an interesting tale. It is said that a bout of lightening struck the grounds in Tanzania and this led to the pebbles and stones turning into a violet-blue color due to the magical fire radiating from the skies.

Loose Tanzanites in Variation Sizes

There is yet another story, and a more practical one which says that a local Maasai tribesman found a violet crystal, and he revealed this to Manuel D’Souza, a Goan tailor who also knew about gemstones. This gentleman took with him this crystal to Germany where, after thorough testing and gem identification by experts from GIA, the British Museum and Harvard University, it was determined that the origin of the gem was from the mineral zoisite. Soon this new miraculous gemstone was added to the vibrant family of gemstones.

Tanzanites being a recent gemstone do not have much of history and lore attached to themselves unlike most other gemstones. Tanzanites happen to be the birthstone for the month of December. These beautiful stones are said to bring a soothing and peaceful effect on the wearer besides being beneficial in curbing feelings of negativity.

Like all other gemstones the loveliness of tanzanites lies in the color of these stones. The best tanzanites are those that are a blend of violet and dark blue with a rich velvety touch. Clarity is another area where tanzanites score since these gemstones are usually free of inclusions and clear. Tanzanites are also available in bigger sizes as compared to other gemstones which again give them an edge.

Read also : Tanzanite History


iconTanzanite Gemstones

EmeraldTanzanite is a rare and exotic gemstone which was first discovered by Portuguese prospector Manuel D’Souza in the Merelani Hills of Tanzania in 1967, in the shadow of Majestic Mountain Kilimanjaro. The natives of the region, Maasai tribesmen, have interesting legends in folklore talking of tanzanite’s origin. In the ancient times there was a legend that referred tanzanite to a bolt of lightning striking the ground. The heat generated by the ‘magical fire from the sky’ transformed the pebbles on the ground into bluish violet gems. And since then these mystical stones are associated with good luck GIA along with the mineralogists from other respected institutions like Harvard, the British Museum and Heidelberg University, identified this rare gem as a variety of the mineral zoisite. This was the latest addition to the family of color gemstones and the rest is history.

Since tanzanite is a much recent find, it is popularly known as the gemstone of the 20th century. According to The Tanzanite Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting tanzanite and those associated with its mining, tanzanite gemstone is a 1000 times rarer than diamonds. The obvious reason is its limited source which is getting depleted. This generation has the privilege to be the first time owners of a tanzanite gemstone.

In the year 2002 this exceptional gemstone was added to the American Gem Trade Association’s list of birthstones. Tanzanite is the birthstone for the month of December.

A calcium aluminum silicate Ca2Al3(O/OH/SiO4/Si2O7) by chemical composition, tanzanite belongs to the zoisite mineral family. It has a hardness of 6.5-7 on the Mohs scale which is not particularly hard as compared to other gemstones.

The color of all gemstones change in varied light conditions but tanzanite is chameleon of a gemstone. Tanzanite has the unusual quality of displaying several shades of color at once even when the light conditions remain constant. The gemstone’s color can be described as a deep-dark blue with violet and red overtones with a hint of sage green (sometimes).

Tanzanite is probably the most transparent, or "eye-clean" (free from visible inclusions) of all fine gems. Tanzanite described as Eye Clean or Slightly Included may contain minor inclusions can be viewed only under magnification but are not visible to the unaided eye. The common principal for all gemstones applies, the more flawless the tanzanite, the more valuable it is.

Cut refers to the shape, proportion and brilliance of a tanzanite. A proportionate cut ensures that the stone’s facets reflect light to create maximum brilliance. If tanzanite is cut too deep or too shallow, its radiance will deflect through the sides or from the bottom of the stone, detracting from its brilliance.

There is a tanzanite specific issue when it comes to carats; these gemstones tend to look lighter in shade in smaller sizes due to the high transparency level. And since these gemstones are more affordable as compared to sapphires, larger sizes can be preferred.

When tanzanite is mined, it is almost always grayish or brownish in color. Very rarely rough crystal will come out purple or blue, but for those that don't, heat treatment is used to get the lovely color. This treatment brings out the beautiful blues and purples tanzanite is so celebrated for. The treatment is permanent and an accepted norm in the jewelry industry. The treatment does not affect the price of the gemstone.

Tips for buying your Tanzanite
One of the most important factors to be considered while buying a tanzanite is its color. Although, tanzanite is considered a three-colored gemstone, the most celebrated hue is deep blue with shades of purple, violet, red or orange. Usually tanzanite has good clarity level, so one should prefer an eye clean stone. Larger carat stone have deeper color with less transparency which looks more prized.

Gemstone in jewelry
Tanzanite is usually worn as pendant, necklace or earrings. When set in rings, the gemstone is very often bezel set to protect the gem. Tanzanite looks great with diamonds or white sapphires as the brilliance of these stones complements the deep luster of tanzanite and provides tenacity to the setting.

Tanzanite care
Avoid cleaning tanzanite with hot soapy water or steam and never clean it in an ultrasonic cleaner. Never use harsh detergents and or any cleaning solutions that contain petroleum distillates. Avoid soaking your gemstone in water for long and only use something like an old soft toothbrush (without toothpaste). A warm moist cloth may also be used to clean tanzanite jewelry.

Rare and unique, this extraordinary gemstone has created a special place of respect in the world of colored gemstones. The lovely color of the gemstone is a fine cusp between deep violet and royal blue with a velvety shine.