The history and origin of Tanzanite
Tanzanite is a relatively new gemstone, discovered in 1967. It is said that Masai tribesmen walking through the plains of Tanzania came across a stone that was seen to be hit with lightning. This mineral was Zoisite and the mineral was a beautiful deep blue with a tinge of purple surrounding the center. This new mineral was later named Tanzanite with the help of Tiffany’s and Co. and from this point on became a favorite of the jewelry marketplace.
Tanzanite comes from one place only, the mines of North Tanzania. It is an extraordinary mineral in that it gives off a wonderful hue, most notably deep blue with a hint of purple. However, it can come in other colors as well including purple or brownish-yellow.
Some of the stones even include a trichroism effect, meaning they can reflect three different colors depending on the angle at which you look at the stone. Usually, they include purple, blue, and yellow or green.
Tiffany’s made this gemstone extremely popular in the world’s gemstone marketplace and due to mainly its undeniable beautiful color; it has become a favorite around the world. Because Tanzanite is rare and found in one place only, it can command high gemstone prices that sometimes rival or approach that of the diamond.
Tanzanite is marketed as the gemstone to give to a mother with a newborn child. The Masai of Africa believes that this stone brings life and Tiffany and Co. has marketed this idea to millions making it a great gemstone for new mothers.
What is Tanzanite used for?
Tanzanite is considered one of the most beautiful gemstones mainly due to its beautiful hue of blue that is surrounded by a tinge of purple. Tanzanite is very rare and so far, only mined in one specific place – Tanzania.
Most Tanzanite gemstones are mined in relatively small mines along the northern Tanzania border. While most Tanzania minerals found are very small, once in a while, large masses of Tanzanite are found. The record so far is an unbelievable 16,000+ crystal that weighs more than 6 carats. This Tanzanite crystal is easily worth millions of dollars. Tanzanite, because of its rareness and beauty are very valuable, sometimes approaching diamonds for the very best color, size, and attributes.
Tanzanite is relatively hard, but wearers should be cautious when wearing it in a ring setting. Because it only has a hardness of 6.5 to 7 it can be cracked upon direct impact, it should also stay away from intense heat and even sonic baths. However, for normal wear, it is usually fine.
How and where is Tanzanite found and formed?
Tanzanite comes from the mineral Zoisite. It is made from calcium, aluminum, and silica. Tanzanite is only available in one distinct location, while it is known that specific trace minerals have caused the wonderful color of Tanzanite, it is not copied naturally in any other location throughout the world.
Besides forming naturally, Tanzanite can be synthetically created. It is interesting to note that when Tanzanite is created synthetically it is no longer has the mineral properties of Zoisite; it has different mineral properties called Forsterite. Practically all Tanzanite is treated whether synthetically or natural. It is usually heated with temperatures over 500 degrees Celsius. This treatment process enhances the color of the stone and makes it perfect for any fine jewelry setting.
The colors, shapes, and sizes that Tanzanite comes in
Tanzanite comes in several colors including blue, violet, green, and purple. It should be noted that Tanzanite also exhibits the effect of trichroism, this means that sometimes three colors are present in the Tanzanite stone. For instance, sapphire blue, violet, and sage green can all be present depending on how you view and position the stone.
While Tanzanite can be difficult to cut due to the one-way cleavage, it can be cut and shaped into endless shapes and sizes. However, most consumers generally purchase stones below 3 carats and in cuts that go well with rings. Other favorite jewelry pieces for Tanzanite include earrings, charms, and bracelets. While great for everyday use, when wearing Tanzanite be careful of direct impact and extreme heat. This can harm the stone. It should also be noted that the vast majority of Tanzanite on the market has been treated, usually with heat to enhance the color of the gemstone. This is normal and usually does not affect the price.