Tanzanite: The Beautiful Blue Gemstone
History of Tanzanite: From Discovery to Popularity
Tanzanite is a rare and valuable gemstone that was discovered in the late 1960s in Tanzania, East Africa. The story of tanzanite's discovery and rise to popularity is a fascinating one, and it highlights the intersection of geology, commerce, and culture.
In 1967, a Maasai tribesman named Jumanne Ngoma discovered some blue-purple stones in the Merelani Hills in northern Tanzania. He brought the stones to a local prospector, Manuel de Souza, who recognized them as a potential new gemstone. De Souza was working for a company called Tiffany & Co., which had sent him to Tanzania to search for a new blue gemstone that could rival sapphire.
De Souza sent some of the stones to Tiffany & Co.'s headquarters in New York, where they were identified as a new variety of zoisite. Tiffany & Co. named the gemstone "tanzanite" after its country of origin and began marketing it as a rare and exotic gemstone.
The discovery of tanzanite caused a sensation in the gemstone world, and its popularity quickly spread. The gemstone was featured in magazine articles and advertisements, and it became a popular choice for engagement rings and other jewellery.
One of the factors that contributed to tanzanite's popularity was its unique colour. Tanzanite can range from a pale blue to a deep violet-blue, and its colour can shift depending on the lighting and viewing angle. This colour-changing property, combined with tanzanite's rarity, made it a highly desirable gemstone.
Another factor that contributed to tanzanite's popularity was its association with Tanzania and the Maasai people. The Maasai are a semi-nomadic tribe that has lived in Tanzania and Kenya for centuries. They have a rich culture and are known for their distinctive clothing, jewellery, and traditions.
Tanzanite became a symbol of Tanzania's natural beauty and cultural heritage, and it helped to boost the country's economy. Tanzanite mining became an important industry in Tanzania, and the gemstone was a major export. Tanzanite also provided employment opportunities for the local population, and it helped to fund community development projects.
However, the rapid rise in demand for tanzanite also created some challenges. Illegal mining and smuggling became major problems, as people sought to cash in on the high prices that tanzanite could fetch. The Tanzanian government responded by setting up a tanzanite certification system to regulate the industry and prevent illegal activities.
Today, tanzanite remains a popular and highly prized gemstone. It is still mined exclusively in Tanzania, and it is known for its rarity, beauty, and cultural significance. Tanzanite has also been recognized as a birthstone for December, further cementing its place in the world of gemstones.
In conclusion, the history of tanzanite is a story of discovery, commerce, and culture. The gemstone's unique colour and association with Tanzania and the Maasai people helped to make it a popular and highly prized gemstone. While tanzanite's rise to popularity was not without challenges, it remains an important part of Tanzania's economy and cultural heritage.
Physical Properties of Tanzanite: A Closer Look
Tanzanite is a rare and highly prized gemstone that is found exclusively in Tanzania. It is a variety of the mineral zoisite, and it is known for its beautiful blue-violet colour and unique physical properties. In this article, we will take a closer look at the physical properties of tanzanite.
The most distinctive physical property of tanzanite is its colour. Tanzanite can range in colour from a pale blue to a deep violet-blue, and it can also exhibit colour-changing properties. This means that the gemstone's colour can appear different depending on the lighting and viewing angle. The blue-violet colour of tanzanite is caused by the presence of vanadium, which is a trace element in the mineral.
Tanzanite has a hardness of 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale. This means that it is relatively hard and durable, but it is still susceptible to scratches and chips. Tanzanite should be treated with care and stored separately from other gemstones and jewellery to prevent damage.
Tanzanite has good cleavage, which means that it can be split easily along certain planes. This makes it more susceptible to breakage than some other gemstones, and it should be handled carefully to avoid damage.
Tanzanite belongs to the orthorhombic crystal system, which is characterized by three axes of different lengths that intersect at right angles. The crystal structure of tanzanite is made up of interconnected chains of silicon, oxygen, and aluminium atoms, with vanadium and calcium atoms interspersed within the chains.
Tanzanite has a relatively high refractive index, which is a measure of how much light is bent as it passes through the gemstone. The refractive index of tanzanite ranges from 1.691 to 1.700, which gives it a high level of brilliance and sparkle.
Tanzanite exhibits birefringence, which means that it can split light into two rays as it passes through the gemstone. This property gives tanzanite its distinctive appearance and contributes to its colour-changing properties.
The specific gravity of tanzanite ranges from 3.35 to 3.38, which is slightly higher than the average for most gemstones. This means that tanzanite is relatively dense and heavy for its size.
Tanzanite is a uniaxial gemstone, which means that it has one optic axis. This property contributes to its birefringence and colour-changing properties.
In conclusion, the physical properties of tanzanite are what make it such a unique and highly prized gemstone. Its distinctive blue-violet colour, hardness, cleavage, crystal system, refractive index, birefringence, specific gravity, and optical character all contribute to its beauty and value. Tanzanite is a gemstone that is truly one of a kind, and it continues to captivate gemstone enthusiasts and collectors around the world.
Colours and Grading of Tanzanite: How to Choose the Best Stone
Tanzanite is a rare and highly prized gemstone that is prized for its unique colour, beauty, and rarity. Tanzanite is a variety of zoisite mineral that is found exclusively in Tanzania. It is a relatively soft stone, with a hardness of 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale, making it somewhat susceptible to scratching and chipping.
One of the most distinctive physical properties of tanzanite is its colour. Tanzanite can range in colour from a pale blue to a deep violet-blue, with the intensity of the colour depending on the quality of the stone. The colour of tanzanite can also shift depending on the lighting and viewing angle, giving it a unique and captivating character.
Tanzanite is a pleochroic stone, meaning that it displays different colours when viewed from different directions. In the case of tanzanite, the stone can appear blue, violet, or brownish-yellow depending on the viewing angle. This pleochroism is one of the factors that makes tanzanite such a prized gemstone, as it gives each stone a unique character and personality.
Tanzanite also has a relatively high refractive index, meaning that it can reflect light in a way that creates a high degree of brilliance and sparkle. This property gives tanzanite a dazzling appearance that makes it a popular choice for engagement rings, earrings, and other jewellery.
Tanzanite has a specific gravity of approximately 3.35, which is slightly higher than most other gemstones. This density gives tanzanite a substantial feel and weight, which can be another attractive feature for those who prefer heavier, more substantial jewellery.
In terms of clarity, tanzanite can be quite transparent and free of inclusions. However, it is not uncommon for tanzanite to have some inclusions or surface imperfections. These imperfections can affect the value of the stone, with clearer and more flawless stones being more highly prized and valuable
Finally, it's worth noting that tanzanite is a relatively fragile gemstone, and it can be susceptible to chipping and cracking if it is not handled and cared for properly. Tanzanite should be stored separately from other gemstones to avoid damage, and it should be cleaned carefully and gently with a soft brush and mild soap to avoid scratching.
In conclusion, the physical properties of tanzanite are what make it such a unique and highly prized gemstone. Its distinctive colour, pleochroism, high refractive index, density, and transparency all contribute to its beauty and desirability. However, it is important to handle and care for tanzanite carefully to avoid damaging it and compromising its value.
Uses of Tanzanite: Jewellery, Collecting, and More
Tanzanite is a beautiful and unique gemstone that has a variety of uses, including in jewellery, collecting, and as a meaningful gift. Here is a closer look at the uses of tanzanite:
Jewellery: Tanzanite is a popular choice for jewellery, especially for engagement rings and other special occasion pieces. Its blue colour is reminiscent of sapphires, but its rarity and uniqueness make it a standout gemstone. Tanzanite can be used in a variety of jewellery styles, from classic solitaires to modern and contemporary designs. It is often set in white gold or platinum to enhance its colour and beauty.
Collecting: Tanzanite is also a popular choice for gemstone collectors and enthusiasts. Its rarity and unique properties, including its trichroism, make it a fascinating and sought-after gemstone. Collectors often seek out tanzanite stones with high clarity, deep blue hues, and excellent cut.
Gifts: Tanzanite is a meaningful and unique gift for a loved one or friend. It is a birthstone for December and is also associated with the 24th wedding anniversary. Tanzanite's blue colour is said to represent calm and serenity, making it a meaningful gift for someone who could use a little relaxation and tranquillity in their life.
Other uses: Tanzanite is also used in spiritual practices and is said to have healing properties, including helping with communication, self-expression, and connecting with higher realms. It is also used in meditation and visualization practices.
In summary, tanzanite has a variety of uses, from jewellery to collecting to spiritual practices. Its beauty and uniqueness make it a popular gemstone for many different applications. Whether you are looking for a special piece of jewellery or a meaningful gift, tanzanite is definitely worth considering.
Caring for Tanzanite: Tips for Maintenance and Cleaning
Tanzanite is a delicate gemstone that requires proper care and maintenance to preserve its beauty and value. Here are some tips for caring for tanzanite, including maintenance and cleaning.
To keep your tanzanite jewellery looking its best, it is important to store it properly. Tanzanite should be kept in a cool, dry place away from sunlight, heat, and humidity. It is best to store tanzanite jewellery in a soft pouch or cloth to prevent scratches and damage.
When wearing tanzanite jewellery, it is essential to avoid exposing it to harsh chemicals and substances. Tanzanite should not come into contact with chlorine, bleach, or other household cleaning agents, as these can damage the stone. It is also best to remove tanzanite jewellery before swimming or showering, as exposure to water and soap can also damage the stone.
Regular cleaning is important to keep tanzanite looking its best. To clean tanzanite jewellery, use a soft cloth and mild soap and water. Avoid using abrasive materials or harsh chemicals, as these can scratch or damage the stone. After cleaning, be sure to dry the jewellery thoroughly with a soft cloth.
Tanzanite jewellery should be inspected regularly for any signs of damage or wear. If you notice any loose stones, cracks, or other damage, it is best to take the jewellery to a professional jeweller for repair.
Overall, caring for tanzanite is relatively simple, but it requires proper storage, handling, and cleaning to keep the stone looking its best. With proper care and maintenance, tanzanite can be enjoyed for years to come.
Conclusion: Why Tanzanite Is a Gemstone Worth Celebrating
In conclusion, Tanzanite is a gemstone that is definitely worth celebrating for its stunning blue-purple colour, rarity, and contribution to the jewellery industry. Its unique characteristics make it a favourite among jewellery designers and collectors alike, and its limited supply adds to its allure. Tanzanite is a gemstone that truly stands out and deserves recognition for its beauty and value.