This beautiful blue lavender gemstone is relatively new on the gemstone market. It was discovered in 1967 by a tailor who was looking for rubies and was led to a deposit of blue stones, in the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro, by a group of Masai tribesman. It was first called Blue Zoisite, because it is a type of zoisite, but was later renamed Tanzanite by Tiffany a&Co. who wanted to capitalize on the rarity of the stone which is only found in Tanzania. Several claims were filed, which led to many mines being opened. In 1971, the Tanzanian government took control of the mines, and in 1976 turned the running of the mines over to the State Mining Corporation. Their methods caused production to drop. Tiffany stopped promoting and buying the stone in the late 70's due to the unreliability of the supply. By the late 80's, the government had lost control of the area and it was flooded with thousands of illegal miners. By 1991, the government had regained control of the area and began issuing licenses to private domestic parties, which has helped increase and stabilize the supply. However, when these mines are played out, the only Tanzanite available will be what is already on the market. Expert geologists maintain that the odds of Tanzanite being found anywhere else are one in a million.
The most prized color for Tanzanite is either the sapphire blue or
the very intense violet blue. Most Tanzanite mined today is a
brownish color, which is heat treated to bring out the deep blues and
purples in the stones. Since heat treatment has no effect on the
price, it is assumed that finished gems (cut and polished) are heat
treated. Any treatment should be disclosed by the seller. On the
Moh scale, it has a hardness of 6.5.
There are several gemstones that are confused with tanzanite,
among those are iolite, blue spinel, and lower quality blue sapphire.
There is a lab created tanzanite called Tanzanique. It does not
display the same light defraction as natural tanzanite.
In October, 2002, the American Gem Trade Association, added
Tanzanite as a birthstone for the month of December, along with
Turquoise and Blue Zircon.
It is believed that Tanzanite can be used to enhance psychic
abilities, composure, harmony and poise. It is also said to be
beneficial for lowering stress levels and blood pressure and in
getting people to slow down and take it easy. It is sometimes called
the workaholics stone.
These are a couple of the tanzanite stones I have.