Gemstones, Birthstones, Gemstone Jewelry

 

Tanzanite

December Birthstone

An incredible stone with unique looks and exotic presence – tanzanite is truly an astounding discovery of 20th century. This beautiful and flamboyant gemstone from Mount Kilimanjaro is even rarer than diamonds. In fact, the deposits will soon deplete and the stone will be an heirloom for the next generation. Its brilliance and beauty is often compared with that of sapphire. These days, tanzanite is one of the most prominent gemstone choices for designer jewelry. From engagement rings and wedding jewelry to chic fashion pieces, tanzanite is a sure delight in each way.

Here are some facts and details to make your tanzanite shopping more interesting and valued.

Tanzanite History

Tanzanite does not have much hidden in the chest of time. It does not have centuries’ old history but the story of tanzanite discovery is interesting enough to catch your attention.

• The gemstone was accidentally discovered some 47 years ago when a prospector from Arusha, Tanzania was searching for sapphires in Mt. Kilimanjaro region. During his search, Manuel D’Souza met Mesai tribesman Ali Juuyawatu, who gave him a brilliant blue-violet translucent crystal and took him to the site for more such pieces. Reaching to the Merelani Hill, D’Souza found the crystal was abundantly available in the area.

• After primary identification test, he discovered the crystal is not a sapphire. D’Souza took the samples to Germany for further testing. Experts at GIA with those from Harvard, the British Museum and Heidelberg University tested the samples and unanimously identified the gem as a variety of zoisite mineral family.

• When Henry Platt of Tiffany & Co. came to know about the gem, he went to Tanzania to know more. Henry was so surprised and amazed with the newly discovered gem that he called it the most important discovery of 20th century. In 1969, after two years of its discovery, Tiffany & Co. introduced the gem to the world. Since then, the popularity of tanzanite has just gone tremendously higher. Today, it is a must-have choice for fine and fashion jewelry and the worldwide demand of tanzanite jewelry is equivalent to that of precious gemstones.

• Unfortunately, this gem is limited in nature. In fact, it is not even enough to supply for more than a generation. According to experts, the reason why tanzanites are found only in Tanzania is linked with its formation.

• 585-years-ago, the conditions involved in formation of tanzanite had a random addition of vanadium to the crystals during an event so unique that the occurrence of the stone anywhere else is one in a million.

• The beauty and mystical powers of tanzanite forced the gemologists to alter the birthstone list. In October 2002, this brilliant zoisite was added to the list as the birthstone for December.

Genesis

• This gemstone of century is found only in Merelani Hills near Arusha, a rift valley 25 miles from Mt. Kilimanjaro base.

• Metamorphic rocks, schist and marbles of Mozambique Organic belt host the stones that run through the low hills of Merelani.

• The deposits running at an angle of 41 degrees from surface create pockets of tanzanite.

Tanzanite properties

• Named after its country of origin – Tanzania, tanzanite has a lot to cheer for:

• This incredibly gorgeous gem from zoisite mineral family has a hardness of seven on moh’s scale. It is orthorhombic in structure and has a perfect cleavage making it soft and brittle.

• The stone is dull brown in rough state and requires heating at 600 degree Celsius followed by gradual cooling to bring the marvelous blue-violet color. This change of color is permanent and is must to increase the value of the gem.

• Tanzanite, along with sapphire, is considered the finest blue gemstone in existence. Its hue ranges from pale to dark blue-violet. Intense violet-blue tanzanites with almost invisible inclusions demand high premium.

• This stone shows high pleochroism, that means stone color changes with change in angle and light. High quality stones show three colors when viewed from different angles.