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Tanzanite is a blue to purple variety of Zoisite, a mineral of the family Silicates. What makes its particularity is the strength of its pleochroism, this ability to change color according to its orientation. In the case of tanzanite, it is trichroïsme: the stone shows blue, red-violet and the colour bronze according to the angle of observation. Some, called fancy tanzanites, are multicolored. The most prestigious and the most magnificent tanzanite in many colors is the chameleon which presents incredible reflections. The majority of tanzanites used in jewellery have been heated to intensify their natural colour and soften brown shades. A thousand times rarer than diamonds, and extracted in increasingly harsh conditions from the depths of the earth where the heat is barely bearable, the price of tanzanite gets higher and higher because the demand is much higher than the offer. The area concerned is only 20 km2 and the deposits will certainly be exhausted in the near future.




Zoisite group


The main appeal of tanzanite, which is an exceptionally rare gemstone, is its lovely colour. It ranges from pure blue to purplish-blue. It is highly ‘pleochroic', meaning that it will display different colour saturation when viewed from different angles.


Apart from anecdotal quantities in Pakistan, it has only been found in Tanzania, and it is still the only place in the world where it is exploited. The mines are located on the territory of the Masai, which owns 95% of the trade of this stone.


According to Maasai tradition, the colour blue is sacred and women blessed with children are honoured by wearing blue fabric and beads. Maasai chiefs therefore give tanzanite stones to their wives after childbirth to bless the new baby. A few years ago tanzanite was added with fanfare to the official birthstone list, which hadn't been changed since 1912. It joined turquoise and zircon as the birthstone for December, thereby symbolizing new beginnings.


Legend has it that lightning struck an area of the Merelani hills in the East African state of Tanzania in 1967, causing brown zoisite crystals to turn into a stunning shade of blue and violet. Some Maasai shepherds took the stones and showed them to a gold prospector who had them tested.

The gems made their way to Tiffany's jewellers in New York City the same year, where they were named tanzanite after their country of origin. Soon thereafter, Tiffany's launched a huge advertising campaign to celebrate the incredible find. Tanzanite has since become a very appreciated gemstone for jewellery. To date, it is a single-source gemstone, and this source is reportedly expected to be mined-out within the next 20 to 30 years.

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