Tanzanite: an Introduction

Tanzanite: an Introduction

Tanzanite is an extremely rare blue and violet colored specimen of the Zoisite mineral. It is said to be 1000 times rarer than diamonds. Tanzanite was first discovered in 1967 in Tanzania. At first it was called Blue Zoisite but in 1969 Tiffany & Co., marketed a major advertisement campaign and gave it the name of Tanzanite, derived from its source locality.

Tanzania is located in East Africa and till this day it is the only source for Tanzanite. The successful marketing of this gemstone as the " the most beautiful blue stone to be discovered in over 2000 years" coupled with its very limited supply has resulted in soaring prices. Prices reached a new high in 1997 when a South African mining company called TanzaniteOne manipulated its supply and thus influenced its prices through heavy and effective marketing. They had employed the marketing ploy from De Beers on the marketing of diamonds.

Although Tanzanite comes naturally in lovely blue colors, it is usually heated to enhance its blue and eliminate its natural yellow and brown tints.

Tanzanite hardness on the Mohs scale falls between 6.5 to 7, just like Emeralds. Tanzanite also has a perfect cleavage just like diamonds. Though it is delicate than quartz, it can last longer than steel.

In 2002, the American Gem Trade Association added Tanzanite as an alternative birthstone for December. TanzaniteOne, however, wanted further recognition for their gemstone. They wanted parents to give Tanzanite to every child born regardless of the month, alluding to the spiritual tribal practices of the Masai People. Thus “Be Born to Tanzanite” was popularised as its slogan.