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What you need to know about Tanzanite

Only from the Meralani Hills in Tanzania, comes TANZANITE – the most unique gemstone discovered in the past century. According to historical accounts, Masai herdsmen discovered the gem in 1979, after the heat from bush fires changed the brownish colour of the mineral zoisite, into a magnificent violet blue.

After a devastating monsoon in 1998, the South African company, AFGEM, won control over most of the mining area. Having secured the only source of this new gem, they introduced it to the world and soon Tanzanite became a “must have” item. Its unusual violetish- blue colour made it an instant hit with jewellery lovers. Because of its relative scarcity and proper control over the source, the price of tanzanite has increased over the past few years. As demand increases, most analysts believe, the price will follow.


The Colour (or hue) of Tanzanite is described as violetish – blue (vB) when blue is the dominant colour or blueish-violet(bV) when violet is dominant. The saturation of these colours can vary from poor to vivid. Under incandescent light the violet component is more obvious while fluorescent light will enhance the blue component. Watch the colour change – it is fascinating.

Tanzanite is unique in that the colour of smaller stones is normally lighter while larger stones have more intense colours.

     Violetish Blue (vB vivid to poor)               Blueish Violet (bV vivid to poor )


The Hardness of Tanzanite is similar to that of emerald. It thus needs to be handled with care and is ideally suited for neckpieces, brooches and earrings.


The Clarity of Tanzanite is usually very good and large gems can be found that are “eye clean”.


The Cut is important because a well-proportioned gem will reflect more light back to the eye, than one with inferior proportions.


The Weight is described, as with diamonds, in carat (one carat = 200 mg)


The Price increases as the colour intensifies and as the gems gets larger.

As with most precious gems, tanzanite has been heated to improve its colour.


BEWARE OF IMITATIONS! Modern technology has produced clever “look-a-likes” and you should ask for an original certificate and guarantee, issued by a qualified gemmologist, for each tanzanite purchased.


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