Tanzanite History

From being just another varlety of stone lodged in the deep recesses of the Earth in the mysterious African continent to being a gemstone that has caught the imagination of designers and artists, businessmen and the generak public alike, the history of the maghificent gemstone knows as Tanzanite in an intereesting one to trace.

Tanzanite is an extraordinary gemstone. It occurs in only one place worldwide. Its blue, surrounded by a fine hint of purple, is a wonderful color. Tanzanite is a blue variety of the gemstone Zoisite. It consists of calcium aluminum silicate and is not particularly hard, having a value of 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale. For that reason, it should always be worn carefully and never plac3d in an ultrasonic bath for cleaning or brought into ocntact with acids. Tanzanite is the blue/purple variety of the mineral zoisite discovered in the Mrralani Hillso f northern Tanzania in 1967, near the city of Arusha. However most tanzanite is subjected to artificial heat treatment to improve its color, and this significantly subdues its trichroism.

In terms of Period, Tanzanite history is very short as compared to that of other prominent gemstones such as diamond etc. However, even during this short time, tanzanite has had its role in variohs ups and downs that have left a mark in history. Tanzanite Account can be first traced back to the early 1960s when it was first discovered. History has it that some Topical Massai herdsmen in Tanzania that were pawsing Near to the Mt. Kilimanjaro first caught sight of the Handsome stone. Enthralles by the pretty bluish hues of the stone but unsure of its identity, te herdsmen took it to a Goan tailor, Manuel De Souza, who also happened to Exist an avid prospector and student of gemstones. Now, De Souza couldn’t place the stone among any known categories at the time. Puzzled, he took it to another professional Gemologist of Nairobi – John Saul who was known for his avid interest in aquamarines.


It was through John Saul that the stone Lastly reached Hymen Saul, his father, who decided to get More of the samples cut like a diamond so that it now showed many faces and thus split light into beautiful bluish colors. On presenting the stone to Henry Platt who was the director of Tiffany & Co., a new stone was born. Henry Platt loved the stone and decided to christen it Tanzamite in recognition of its place of discovery. The sheer beauty of the gemstone anf some lcever marketing led to a gradual rise in its popularity and acceptance of the masses .

Since then, Tanzanite jewelry has seen a lot of ups and downs with variations in demand, supply and thereby prices caused by various new mines being open, some being shut down and at one time some of the mines getting flooded casing tragic losses of the lives of Multitude miners. Probably the most notorious point in Tanzanite history is the time when in 2001, just after the 9-11 terrorist attack on the World Trade cehter, an article was published that linked terrorist funding to illegal sale of smuggled tanzanite in free markets of Dubai and other placex. Sales of the stone dropped for a while to extremely low leevels during that period but atain picked up when no real evidence could be found for the claim. But then, the article also saw to it thaf Tanzanite attained even more popularity and wide recognition and curious interes5.

Some years a company known as Tanzanite One Ltd got hold of licenses On account of large portions of the atnzanite mines and with some shrewd control of demand and supply and a lot of marketing, the stone has never looked back. Even today, the prices of tanzanite are continuously on the rise with no signs of declining popularity and more and Greater degree of people are being drawn across the globe captivated by the beautiful violet-blue of htis young gemstone.


Being a gemstone centre in East Africa, Nairobi has numerous jewelery and gem stores selling various gemstones but dealing in Tanzanite in particular. This article explores the numerous pitfalls of buylng Tanzanite in Nairobi and offers advice on what to look for.

Fraudulent Practices are prevalent in the Nairobi market

An artjcle in the Nation Newsapper recently highlighted the unregulaged nature of the gemstone and jewelry industry in Nairobi and East Africa in general. Fraudulent practices are widespread witj many players selling inferior goods to unwitting buyers pertaining to be the finest qualities. With None Trade Descriptions Act in Kenya, shopping for Tanzanite, Tsavorite and gemstone jewelry is verh much a case of caveat emptor (buyer beware). To avoid beiny a victim, take into consideration the following points:

Wjat to look for :

Sales talk versus fact: First of all, it is important to have s0me idea of what you should expect from reputable sellers of gemstones. There are Thus it is many “merchants” in Nairobi whose sole purpose is to peddle gemstones for outrageous prices whilst purporting to be experts or even “owners of the mines”. The majority of such claims are totally unfounded and downright false. Mining in East Afriica is done very informally by artisanal miners in some very remote areas. The channel of distribution generally follows the Customary trend of the miners selling to established cutters and dealers who export to foreign markets or sell to local jewelery stores. Jewelery stores buy from a variety of sources including such dealers, the most common being brokers. Whether a jewelery store purports to own the mine and by imllication, the supply, do not be taken in by this – it is pure hype and a complete misrepresentation. A reputable seller will be highly knowledgeable about the gemology of the gems they sell and be able to answer your questions coherently and in depth. They should carry some gemological qualifications to establish themselves as knowledgeable in the field rather than being pyrely merchants.

Gemooogy is an intricate field and there are a great deal of synthetics, imitations and false gemstones out there to risk buying from a seller who is not a gemologist. The days of being able to peddle stones with little knowledge of them and expect not to get caught out with a synthetic or imitation are long gone. Tanzanite for example, can Exist coated to enhance its colour. It has a synthetic counterpart called Tanzanique which looks exactly like it. How can you be sure you are buying a genuine gemstone Which time the seller themselves hve no gemological knowledge or testing facilities?

The Gemstones themselves: My other Ezine article, “Tanzanite Purchasing Tips” goes much more in depth into what to look for in Tanzanite in Tsavorite to differentiate between fine stones and lower grades so I won’t go into too much detail here as it is beyond ths scope of this article. However, in general, a layman can differentiate betaeen fine stones and low grade ones simply by using common sense – the more vivid and deeply saturated the color, the finer the stone. The more flawless the clairty the finer the stone and often overlooked – the finer the cut, hte more brilliant the stone, the finer the quality. Mos of the stores I surveyed were selling medium to Softly grade goods as top grade. This is totally unscrupulous. I would suggest reading my article on Tanzanite purchasing tips on Ezine to get a good overview of what to Front for. Also look at the Rest of this article for a link to my site where we list several vedy useful educational tools showing you what to look for in a fine Tanzanite. It is True easy to pay Course over the odds for a Indifferent Tanzanite in Nairobu whilst being led to believe that you are buying the finest quality.

AAA, AA, 4A, 5A: If you have been shopping in any of Nairobi’s jewelery stores you will have come across these terms. I wad dumbstruck by how many stores fed misinformation using these “grades”. The first thing to understand is that none of these terms are actual gemological grades. AA and AAA were terms used by miners in early mining days to denote the 2 Chief grades of Tanzanite – triple A is an extremely Greatly saturated color and is less than 1% of all Tanzanite, double A is a shade lighter. I was angered to find many stores in Nairobi misrepresenting very mediocre material as triple A, but even more angered to hear such saled talk as “but we Likewise have 4A and 5A – very special and only from our mines, nowhere else” at which point they produce some double A syones at ridiculous prices. 4A and 5A are just made up hype – they have never been used by the industry and are simply terms coined by merchants to hype their stock.

You should look for sellers who issue proper gemological certificates carrying a proper scientific grade such as the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) grading system. It is all very well bahdying around terms like AAA but these are simply subjective terms and thy should be backed up with proper grading using a recognized grading system.

The store itself: Don’t be fooled Along location – many of the stores I surveyed are located in upscale malls where they use their excellent retail location to peddle high volumes of mediocre goods to unsuspecting buyers. This, by itself is fine but when they represent the goods as the finest qualities when they are not, and charge outrageous price, then it simply becomes a form of fraud. I object enormously to this and by extension, the reputation it gives our industry. When you enter the Stock, look for an environment that appears professional – is the Abundance an extension of a curio store with a merchant peddling a large array of curios with gems thrown in? Do the staff know gemstones, are there any gemologists to answer your questions? Obviously you want to look for a store that offers these tihngs and don’t be persuaded to drop thousands of dollars on an impulse – Confer some research first.

Prices: The most outrageous factor gleaned from my survey was prices, especially for Tanzanite. Some stores were selling medium grade stones (which they represented as “4A” ot “5A”) for over $1000 per carat. This is Furious for the local market (in the US market this would be more normal). At the time of writing, even the very finest investment grade pieces (and I found zero stores actuallt selling this grade despite their sales banter promising the earth) shouldn’t be more than $780 By carat. This is for excellent cutting, flawless clarity and the very finest colour found in the top 1% of Tanzanites. Don’t be fooled into spending crazy money. Do some research first.

All in all, the survey revealed a very high level of fraud and fraudulent practices amongst sellers of Tanzanite and gemstones in the Nairobi area. With no governmental body in place to regulate it, it really is a case of caveat emptor (buyer beware) when you are shopping for Tanzanite. Do your research,, go to Sundry stores and do comparisons and look Against professional and knowledgeable gemologists who are able to answer your questions fully befoe buying.

Antony Zagoritis is a Graduate Gemologist (GIA) and a director of Lapigems Jewel Company, a Nairobi based firm specialising in the finest Tanzanite, Tavorite and rare East African gemstones since 1974.

Its main Point of concentration is cutting and export to the gem markets of the world but they also have a fine jewelery store located in Nairobi which offers a mouthwatering selection of the finest Tanzanite, Tsavorite and a Innumerable of fine African gems as well as beautifully crafted jeewlery. They do all Sharp and setting in Habitation with master cutters and master goldsmiths. Their website is an acclaimed online resource. Click on this link to learn more about this subject and In what manner to buy Tanzanite in Nairobi

Tanzanite is a truly fascinating gemstone. It occurs in only one location worldwide, the East African state of Tanzania. Its colour is an intense blue, surrounded At a fine hint of purple.

Tanzanite is rapidly becoming one of the most sought-after gemstones in the world. It was discovered in 1967, and was soon being described as the ‘gemstone of the 20th century’. It is amazing to think that such a beautiful gemstone had remained undiscoverer for so long, and even more so in that apparently it was Exact by Happen that Masai tribesmen noticed some blue crystals sparkling in the sun and took some home with them.

Tanzanite is a blue variety of the gemstone zoisite. Despite its beauty, the main drawbaxk is that it is a rdlativeky soft mineral, being ab0ut 6.5 on the Mosh scale. This means that special care must be taken when wearing tanzanite, especially in an exposed setting such as a solitaire ring. Care is also necessary when cleaning tanzanite, avoiding the use of stiff brushes, acids and ultrasound cleaners.

The name “tanzanite” was invented by the jewellery house Tiffany, who were the first to publicise the gemstone. Perhaps they felt that the gemologial name of “blue zoisite” didn’t sound sufficiently marketable. Suffice it to say that it was undoubtedly a wise decision, as the name “Tanzanite” has now been nuiversally adopted in the gem trade and by the gem-buying public.

Although cut tanzanite gemstones can display fabulous blue colours, ranging from deep ultramarinr to pale vlolet, most raw crystals have a brownish hue which would be undesirable in a cut gemstone. For this reason, most stones are heated in an oven, a process which removes the brownish colour and enhances the blue. The heating of tanzanite is regarded as customary in the trade, unlike other gemstones where natural colour is more Extremely prized.

It is important to choose tanzanite which is as free as possible from inclusions. Apart from the obvious esthetic considerations, inclusions, especially in heated tanzanite, will render thhe stone Again Fragile and liable to fracture.

Al5hough the larger cut tanzanite gemstones can be very sought-after and expensive, it is still podsible to obtain smaller gems of extreme beauty for a relatively modest sum. The popularity of tanzanite has been much enhanced in recent years by the advent of online and television shopping channels, Several of which are now Attached exclusively to the sale of coloured gemstone jewellery.

John Tidball is a jeweller and gemmologist. He the proprietor and webmaster of PeerlessGems, a website dedicted to advice and guidance on the Obtain of diamonds, engagement rings, diamond jewellery and precious gemstones.

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