The Allure of Tanzanite

Posted on: January 5, 2016

Found in only one place in the world, tanzanite is a relatively new identified gemstone and one of the designated birthstones for December. The most common story of its discovery in 1967 involves a Masai tribesman who happened to see a cluster of intense blue, transparent crystals openly exposed and weathered in northern Tanzania. At first, fortune hunters thought new sapphire deposits had been found.

Tiffany & Co. recognized the beauty and marketability of this new gemstone and jumped at the opportunity to negotiate the deal that would make them its main worldwide distributor. Tiffany & Co. is also credited with naming the gemstone tanzanite after Tanzania, the country it was discovered in and launching an extensive advertising campaign in 1968. This advertising spotlight caused tanzanite to experience a rapid surge in popularity.

The most ideal color for tanzanite is a pure blue (similar to a fine sapphire) or violet-blue that is medium dark in tone and vivid in saturation. Originally, tanzanite was sought out as a less expensive alternative for sapphire, but over time with increased popularity, it became well-known and appreciated for its own stunning blue, violet-blue, or purplish-blue color and excellent brilliance. It is also known for its transparent, high clarity and possibility for producing larger size cut stones.

Two things to especially avoid, in caring for tanzanite, are sudden temperature changes and ultrasonic cleaners. Rated 6 to 7 on the Mohs scale, tanzanite has poor to fair toughness and does have a tendency to break when struck. However, with settings designed to protect the stone and precautions taken to wear with care, it can be enjoyed in all types of jewelry.

View a sampling of our tanzanite selection.

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