March 19, 2010 by Sari Boudreau
For many years, when people thought about precious gemstones, four stones would come to mind: diamond, sapphire, ruby and emerald. More recently, a fifth gemstone has been added to the list of precious gemstones. Tanzanite, discovered in 1967, is a beautiful gemstone that ranges in color from a light mauve to a deep, bluish-purple, and even deep red, depending on which way you are looking at it, and is now considered to be the fifth precious gem. Unfortunately, as it gets more and more popular, it is becoming more and more difficult to find.
Tanzanite is a form of Ziosite, and when untreated, it is a dull grey/brown color. Tanzanite is heat-treated to bring out its true beauty, and the only reason the stone was discovered was when members of the Massai tribe found some rough Ziosite that had been “heat-treated” by a bush fire. Tanzanite can only be found in one small area in Africa, Merlani, which sits between the Olduvai Gorge and Mt. Killimanjaro near Tanzania. Because the area that this beautiful gemstone is found is so tiny, the supply is very small, and getting smaller all the time.
A Very Rare And Beautiful Gemstone
There are very few pieces of Tanzanite being mined now, as the area is becoming depleted of this gorgeous gemstone. Because there are fewer Tanzanites available, the price is increasing, and the best quality gemstones can be as high as $1,200 per carat in price. There are still some less expensive pieces of Tanzanite jewelry available, but they do not always have the highest quality gemstones. A good rule of thumb to remember is the darker and more intense the Tanzanite gemstone is, the higher it is in quality. A high carat weight does not necessarily mean that the gemstone is of high quality.
- Tanzanite is the only gemstone to be officially named a birthstone since 1912, and is now one of the December birthstones, along with Turquoise and Zircon.
- Tanzanite is a fragile stone, with a hardness of 6.5 on the Moh’s scale, and requires much gentler care and cleaning than other stones such as sapphire or ruby.
- The Massai tribe give Tanzanite gemstones to children when they are born as a symbol of the celebration of new life.
- The largest Tanzanite crystal ever found weighed more than 16,800 carats.
- Tiffany and Co. introduced Ziosite to the world in 1969, naming it Tanzanite in tribute to the region the gemstone comes from.
- The famous necklace from the movie “The Titanic” had a huge Tanzanite center stone.
- Tanzanite is one of the most highly sought-after gemstone in the world, probably due to its rarity.
Tanzanite is a gemstone that looks lovely in just about any setting, especially white gold and platinum settings. It’s purple and blue hues are lovely and eye-catching, and every woman should have at least one piece of Tanzanite jewelry in their collection.
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