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The Allure of Tanzanite: Uncovering the Beauty of Tanzanite Gemstone Jewellery

A large piece of Tanzanite

About Tanzanite Gemstone Jewellery... In its rough state tanzanite is coloured a reddish brown to clear, and it requires heat treatment to remove the brownish "veil" and bring out the blue violet of the stone. The gemstone was given the name "tanzanite" by Tiffany & Co. after Tanzania, the country in which it was discovered.


Tanzanite is the violet blue to blue violet variety of the mineral zoisite. It is mined commercially only in one area of the world: the Merelani Hills of Tanzania. In the past half decade it has become the most popular colored stone in the market after blue Sapphire. Quite an achievement for such a young gemstone. 

A map showing Merelani where Tanzanite is mined

Tanzanite's appearance is influenced greatly by its pleochroism, which is the ability of a gemstone to show different colours when viewed in different crystal directions. Tanzanite's pleochroism was documented in scientific papers not long after its discovery. In 1969, American Mineralogist described the gem's pleochroic colours as `red-violet, deep blue, and yellow green.'

Did you know that today, most Tanzanite gemstones are heat treated, which removes or reduces the yellow green or brownish pleochroic colour, maximizing the blue and violet.

Top-quality tanzanite can be violetish blue, similar to a fine sapphire colour, or a unique, predominately violet hue all of its own. Some stones might also appear more purplish depending on how the cutter chooses to orient the fashioned gem. Both the violet and blue colours are readily visible in a fashioned stone when it is gently rocked and tilted. This means that every tanzanite is a blend of these pleochroic colours. In one of our jewellery pieces, in the video below, you can the glory that is Tanzanite! This particular jewel is a 40 carat Tanzanite, surrounded with Diamonds.

The exact face-up colour depends on the inherent colour of the original rough, its size, and how the stone is cut, plus the light the finished gem is viewed under. Cool lighting, like daylight equivalent fluorescent, will emphasize tanzanite's blue, while warm lighting, like incandescent, will make it appear more violet-to-purple. Just like other coloured gemstones, vivid strongly-colored tanzanites are highly sought after.

Lighter toned paler, pastel hues are more plentiful and affordable than vivid colours and have a subtle appeal of their own.

As the most common story of the tanzanite mining boom goes, in 1967 a Masai tribesman stumbled upon a cluster of highly transparent, intense violet-to-blue crystals weathering out of the earth in Merelani, an area of northern Tanzania. He alerted a local fortune hunter named Manuel d'Souza, who quickly registered four mining claims. D’Souza hoped that he’d been shown a new sapphire deposit. Instead, the deposit contained one of the newest of the world’s gems.

Within a short time, 90 more claims appeared in the same 20-square-mile area. No one was quite sure what the beautiful crystals were, but everyone wanted to lay claim to the profits they were certain to produce. The new gem would eventually be known as tanzanite, and it would, at times, rival the Big 3 in popularity.

Tiffany & Company recognized its potential as an international seller and made a deal to become its main distributor. The gemstone, as I mentioned earlier, was given the name "tanzanite" by Tiffany & Co. after Tanzania, the country in which it was discovered.

Tiffany Tanzanite Advert Campaign with Tanzanite Rings
Tiffany's Advertisement Tanzanite Campaign

The scientific name of "blue-violet zoisite" was not thought to be sufficiently consumer friendly by Tiffany's marketing department, who introduced it to the market in 1968. In 2002, the American Gem Trade Association chose tanzanite as a December birthstone, the first change to their birthstone list since 1912.

Almost overnight, tanzanite was popular with leading jewellery designers and other gem professionals, as well as with customers who had an eye for beautiful and unusual gems.

Quality and saturation chart for Tanzanite

The deeper the saturation of colour, the more expensive this gemstone becomes. The larger the carat weight the more you are going to get those deeper colours too!

Is tanzanite becoming rare? The stone is rare in terms that it is only found in one mine, in the country of Tanzania. 1,000 times rarer than a diamond, the stone is expected to be completely mined out in the next couple of decades, which further increases the rarity of the stone. So I would say, yes, it is rare.

Has Tanzanite gone up in value and is it worth investing in? Tanzanite prices are dictated by the laws of supply and demand in a way Diamond prices aren't. Diamond prices are controlled by the big players like De Beers who control the supply to market and hence the price. However, if you are wanting a real increase in your purchase for an heirloom jewellery piece, the finer the color/clarity/cutting grade the higher the price. The big watershed for Tanzanite prices is expected to be realized once the stone is mined out. This is what makes the stone an interesting prospect as an investment.

Tanzanite is a birthstone for December, along with zircon, turquoise, and blue topaz. Tanzanite is also the gem for a 24th anniversary.


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