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The name Tanzanite was coined by Tiffany and Company (it’s a commercial name) and it comes from the location of the only zoisite deposit of commercial importance, which is northern Tanzania, near the base of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Therefore, this beautiful gem called Tanzanite is blue in color and has a limited geographic origin. But the name doesn’t just highlight its origin, it also makes you think of exotic beauty, that’s not that easy to find in the world. After all, Tiffany & Co. representatives consider it to be the most beautiful blue stone discovered in the last 2000 years.
As a result, tanzanite engagement rings and other jewelry items are highly valued and provide wearers with unique and eye-catching accessories. Therefore, it can be a wonderful gift for your significant other or a person you value and consider important in your life.
What is Tanzanite?
Tanzanite is one of the rarest gems on the market (and on the Planet) but it has a very affordable price (especially in comparison to diamonds, which are not rare). However, the situation may change in the near future, so anyone interested in getting a truly unique gem should hurry up and make their purchase.
As a mineral, Tanzanite is a trichroic stone and can have several hues of blue from light blue to deep indigo or violet. In addition, this mineral is pleochroic, which means the crystals change colors depending on the light and viewing angle (yet another reason to add such a gemstone to your collection!).
Quick note: the mineral zoisite is available in a wide range of colors such as green, pink, brown, or even clear. However, only the minerals with colors ranging from blue to purple are called Tanzanite. Additionally, some natural zoisite minerals can turn blue when exposed to heat.
In summary, the mineral was discovered in the 1960s (by Tiffany & Co.) and specialists believe that the deposit in Tanzania is probably the only place on Earth where it is available in large quantities. Apparently, around 585 million years ago (the approximate time when Tanzanite was formed) the area went through some exceptional circumstances that are unique to the area. As a result, the chances that the mineral will be available anywhere else on Earth are quite small. Moreover, the current supply is supposed to last about 25 years from now on, which is why Tanzanite is quite a rare gemstone.
Why is Tanzanite Blue?
As we already mentioned, Tanzanite has various hues of blue from light to dark, sometimes even getting into the purple spectrum. However, the mineral that sits at the base of this gemstone (zoisite) has a wider range of colors.
So what makes Tanzanite’s blue color?
According to scientists, Tanzanite is produced when the mineral is sprinkled with small amounts of vanadium. If the mineral is heated at about 600 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes or so the vanadium is forced to change its oxidation state, which leads to the mineral turning blue. Or, if it was already blue, the color will be enriched.
While there are some naturally occurring Tanzanite stones out there (the heat was applied naturally), most gemstones on the market today have been treated with heat to get a better color. However, the natural Tanzanite gemstones that got their color without any human intervention are among the most expensive and sought after.
The Value of a Tanzanite Gem
Given its rarity and overall beauty, Tanzanite has the potential to become the next best thing on the market. This could create a more than welcomed economic boost for Tanzania, a country with a GDP of about US$28 billion. However, the government of Tanzania proved extremely inefficient when it comes to passing laws or exploiting the resources provided by the deposit.
As a result, the worldwide wholesale market for rough Tanzanite is estimated at US$50 million which is quite low in comparison with the wholesale market for rough diamonds, which is around US$12 billion!
Of course, as the end customer, this difference in price is a good thing since you get to buy an exotic and unique gemstone at a very affordable price. Still, this is harmful to the people who live in Tanzania and who will probably be hired to mine the deposit. In addition, due to a lack of governmental supervision, the illegal smuggling of rough gemstones is very frequent. This means that jobs and resources that could’ve been kept in the country (cutting, polishing, mounting, and more) are now lost.
Should I Buy a Tanzanite Gemstone?
Tanzanite is considered the birthstone for those born in December (along with blue topaz, zircon, and turquoise). So, if you want to show your appreciation towards someone born in December, a jewelry item with Tanzanite gemstones is a fantastic gift idea.
This gemstone can be cut with ease, which is why it is available in a wide range of shapes. However, you’ll most often find it as oval or cushion cuts. This makes it perfect for rings, earrings, and pendants.
Quick tip: The most valuable Tanzanite gemstones are the ones that feature deep colors such as saturated violet or dark blue with shades of violet. Moreover, if the stone is big and clear, it will look amazing!
In summary, Tanzanite is a great gemstone for any type of occasion. It can be an amazing gift for a person you respect and appreciate, but it can also be the gemstone that gets your significant other to say “yes” to your marriage proposal (check out these tips on how to propose if you’re at that stage in your life).
Even though it is a unique and gorgeous gemstone, its value doesn’t surpass that of the diamond. On the other hand, its rarity means you can enjoy a truly exotic mineral with wonderful hues and an impressive story.