News

Dazzling Tanzanite, Moijey!

Can you believe that this remarkable gem was discovered 50 years ago? That’s right, tanzanite, in all its varying shades of blue and violet, hasn’t been in the jewelry industry as long as diamonds or rubies.

Only one place in the world has tanzanite. Isn't that something?

Tanzanite is found in only one place in the world: Merelani, which is north of Tanzania in East Africa. Merelani is also near Mount Kilimanjaro, which is also interesting.

How the origin goes in the industry is that Ali Juuyawatu, a Masai tribesman, found bright blue gems weathering away from the earth and quickly informed a local fortune hunter of the blue gems. The fortune hunter, Manuel D’Souza, registered four mining claims, thinking that the blue gems were sapphires.

Two years after the discovery of the blue gems, they turned out to be a transparent variety of zoisite, a mineral usually known to be opaque. A green variety of zoisite, with ruby inclusions, is regularly used for carving ornaments.

To promote the gem in the market, Tiffany & Co. named the new variety of zoisite “Tanzanite” after it’s exotic origin. And we can all agree that tanzanite is a lot easier to say than "transparent blue zoisite."

Isn't that stunning?

After Tiffany gave tanzanite an unforgettable name, it started to be sold as an alternative to sapphire, which was apparently scarce at the time. For full disclosure, tanzanite is a 6.5 to a 7 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness, which means that it is more vulnerable to scratching and abrasion. While tanzanite rings are pretty, the gem will be much safer set into earrings, necklaces, and brooches. Like our simple stud earrings for example. They’re safe and the gorgeous can be enjoyed. Check them out here.

 


You can see in the tanzanite studs here, shades of purple and blue in the same at the same time. That, my dear readers, is pleochroism.

What’s remarkable about tanzanite’s color is how it is developed. Originally, tanzanite is a reddish brown color, but after it is heated, a striking bluish purple appeared. The mesmerizing blue color is caused by heated traces of vanadium. It has to be heated at low temperatures (specifically between 1100 to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit) to remove the brown color and achieve the beautiful bluish purple we all adore. The first tanzanite gems discovered in 1967 were heated by the African sun for heaven knows how long.

Image result for tanzanite before heat treatment
Courtesy of GIA.edu


Another delightful quality about tanzanite is its pleochroism, where different colors appear at different angles in the gemstone. In one tanzanite gem, you can see blue, purple, and violet. How cool does that sound? So many colors… but I digress. Because of the pleochroism, cutters have to be careful when they cut tanzanite rough.


A birthstone that is found in only one place in the world. That would make a one of a kind gift for a one of a kind person. I’m glad December babies have tanzanite as a birthstone, along with turquoise and zircon. We will get into those other blue gems at other times.

Thank you for stopping by. We hope to see you soon.