Tanzanite: Late Addition to the Gemstone World

Despite being found for the first time in 1967. Tanzanite has become one of the most prized gemstones today. The name tanzanite was coined by Tiffany, an obvious link to the originating country Tanzania.

The striking color and clarity of this marvellous gemstone is sure to make everyone’s heart beat slightly faster.

There is a very real possibility that tanzanite will be completely mined out in the next two decades. This will likely increase its value by a tremendously. So if you are waiting for the right time to buy this blue jewel there is no better time than now!

What Is Tanzanite?Tanzanite gemstone in pendant

Tanzanite is a blue-purple member of the zoisite mineral family. Tanzanite is a trichroic gemstone, which means that light that enters the gemstone is split into three different beams, each with a part of the visible light spectrum.

After heating the stone becomes dichroic, coloring the gemstone blue and red (red and blue mixing gives the stone its purple hue).

Tanzanite is classified as a type 1 gemstone by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America). Which means that it has a high clarity and brilliance. Normally it is eye-flawless, meaning someone with normal vision cannot see any inclusions or irregularities.

Rough tanzanite is mostly brown. In order to bring out the blue-purple colour it is heated to 500-600 °C. This colour change is permanent and stable. Almost all tanzanite for sale today is heat-treated to enhance the colour. After heat treatment it is still considered natural tanzanite.

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History of Tanzanite

Tanzanite was first found in 1967 in Tanzania close to Mount Kilimanjaro. A part-time gold prospector was shown fragments of a blue crystal found by a Maasai tribesman. First it was mistakenly identified as a sapphire, before it was rectified to a member of the zoisite family.

Around two million carats of tanzanite stones were mined between 1967 and 1972 before the Tanzanian government nationalized the mines. In 2003 the Tanzanian government banned the export of unprocessed loose tanzanite gems. Hoping the ban would allow a local gem processing industry to be built.

Due to the large demand and extremely limited supply, it can only be found in a small part of Tanzania, it is likely that the supply of tanzanite will be exhausted by our generation. In recent years tanzanite prices have been increasing. This could well be attributed to the fact that a single company, TanzaniteOne Ltd., owns a significant portion of the tanzanite mines and is trying to solidify its control over the tanzanite trade.

Though perhaps people are realizing just how rare this gemstone is. Trying to get one of these magnificent stones before prices start skyrocketing.

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How to Take Care of Your Tanzanite Gemstones

  • You should use lukewarm water with soap to clean off fingerprint stains and dirt.
  • Avoid sharp temperature changes when wearing your tanzanite jewelry. This includes things like reaching into the oven, very cold water or hot tubs.
  • Avoid physical labour while wearing a tanzanite stone as well, because this gemstone is a bit more fragile than some of the other high value gemstones.

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Tanzanite Buying GuideLoose tanzanite

Look carefully at your stone to determine if you can see flaws, inclusions or other irregularities. Because tanzanite is a type 1 gemstone almost all specimens are flawless. This means that a stone that is not flawless should be far cheaper.

The most important factor in tanzanite prices is its color. The hue is down to personal choice. Though in general one should look for medium or dark tones with rich’color. As this will make the gemstone contrast strikingly with gold, silver or platinum jewelry.

Synthetic tanzanite is available on the market and is called tanzanique. The color is quite similar, however it does not display trichroism. This makes a lab created tanzanite quite easy to spot.

If possible go for a higher carat tanzanite. They often have a more concentrated color and show off brilliant trichroism. While certain gemstones become extremely expensive when dealing with larger sizes, this is not the case with tanzanite. Larger sizes are not a rare find, so while they can still be quite expensive they won’t be selling for exorbitant prices. Unlike alexandrite or diamonds for example.

Make sure you buy at a reputable jewelry shop or website. Proper certification when buying a more expensive tanzanite is highly recommended as well.

If you’d like more tips on buying gemstones online take a look at my guide to buying gemstones online.

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