Tanzanite – Everything You Need to Know
When was Tanzanite first discovered?
In the late 1960s, an African tribesman was making his way through the bottom of Mount Kilimanjaro, when he came across a strikingly beautiful piece of mineral that was nestled in the grassland. With its fascinating indigo colour, the tribesman collected the rock and decided to keep it. He eventually sold the rock to a nearby tailor, who was also an amateur prospector. The tailor was unable to identify the curious mineral, so he sent it off to be analysed at a lab in New York. Here it was discovered that the mineral was, in fact, a never-seen-before gemstone.
Where is Tanzanite found?
Since its discovery back in the late 60s, Tanzania is the only place on Earth where Tanzanite has been confirmed to exist. Even more incredible is the fact that only a very small area of Tanzania contains the gemstone.
Tanzanite’s introduction to the consumer world
After being undiscovered and unknown for so long, it wasn’t long before consumers became aware of this remarkable new gemstone, with its glorious glimmer and captivating colour mesmerising jewellers and consumers alike. Beyond its inherent beauty, its scarcity made it even more enticing. Fast forward to the present day and Tanzanite’s appeal has not dimmed, with it now ranked in the top echelon of precious stones, alongside diamonds, rubies and the rest of the most sought-after gems.
Tanzanite’s spellbinding colour
For those fortunate enough to own or to have seen tanzanite jewellery in person, you’ll no doubt have been in awe of its ability to display a whole myriad of different blues and purples, depending on the angle you look at it from. This phenomenon is known as Pleochroism and is a quality common to a vast number of minerals.
Extracting the most beautiful colour
Tanzanite is sometimes mistaken for sapphire, as the colour is very similar. However, the truth is that when tanzanite is collected in its raw state, virtually all of it contains a purple and brownish hue by default. In order for it to achieve the spectacular indigo colour that it is so famous for, it must first be heated (between 370–390 °C (698–734 °F) for approximately half an hour. It’s this intense heat that imbues it with its magical colour, just as it was when it first formed beneath the earth’s surface, all those years ago. Unlike other gemstones where heating it could damage its structure, doing so with tanzanite doesn’t affect its composition and more importantly, its value.
Unlike other precious minerals such as diamond, which are found all over the world, tanzanite is found exclusively in a minute region of Tanzania, known as Arusha. The area in which tanzanite is mined, measures a mere 14 km² (8.7 mi²), making it one of the rarest minerals in the world. Adding to its already remarkable scarcity are reports that claim that the area in which tanzanite is mined may be completely devoid of the mineral within as little as a few hundred years.
Why tanzanite is fabulous for gift purposes
Tanzanite’s awe-inspiring colour and glorious shine, make it a truly sublime jewel to behold. Its aesthetic brilliance is only matched by its rarity, further enhancing its appeal and making it a wonderful gift for anyone lucky enough to take possession of it. Despite only having a hardness rating of 6.5-7.0 on the Mohs scale (for comparison, diamond is 10), tanzanite is suitable to be used in all manner of fine jewellery pieces, including engagement rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets and any other high-end jewellery piece worthy of such a gorgeous gemstone.
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