Tanzanite: The most exciting gemstone of this century
Among all the gemstones that have excited the hearts of buyers and connoisseurs alike in the recent past, none can come close to the overwhelming success of tanzanite – also known as the sapphire doppelganger.
In barely fifty years since it was first discovered among zoisite mineral deposits, this fiery blue gem today is at the very pinnacle in terms of its popularity, and rates just below the Big 4 (namely diamonds, rubies, emeralds & sapphires).
History of Tanzanite:
First discovered in Tanzania (hence the name), there is an interesting story behind the discovery of this stone. Legend has it that it was the Masai tribe who first found these blue stones scattered on their grazing grounds near Mount Kilimanjaro, after a rather severe lightning strike.
Later in 1967, a prospector of Indian-origin, Manuel D’Souza who was infact seeking sapphires, was led to these blue stones by the same tribe in a region known as Merelani Hills in north-eastern Tanzania.
Not surprisingly, D’Souza first thought he had stumbled on a treasure trove of precious sapphires. Upon learning that it was not so, he staked a claim with the government and began mining them.
Word of his find spread soon after and it wasn’t long before the stones became the rage all across the US and Europe. It was Henry Platt of Tiffany & Co who named them – Tanzanite – after their country of origin and also played a huge part in their instant popularity among buyers.
Vital Statistics of Tanzanite:
Rating a 6.5 on the hardness scale, tanzanite gemstones are relatively soft and brittle though they can be worn daily. Colours may range from a deep, dark royal blue with flashes of red to a light cornflower or even a periwinkle blue. Roughs are routinely heat treated to permanently bring out their exotic bluish-purple colour.
The colour of the gemstone is what determines its price. Darker stones are more highly priced while the lighter shades (in cornflower blue and lilac shades) are the more affordable variety.
This brilliant gemstone also has a special three-dimensional pleochroism – making it a trichroic specimen – meaning Tanzanites have the ability to appear in different colours when viewed from different angles.
Tanzanite, a Sought-After Gemstone
Often found in round or oval cuts, large specimens of this gem can cost as much as USD 2,000 (per carat) at jewellery stores. This may sound a bit much, but is in fact a lot cheaper than buying a sapphire of comparable quality.
It is a stone that normally has few inclusions, but as with most gemstones, large, clear, nearly flawless tanzanites are extremely rare.
Said to be 585 million years old, tanzanite gems are coveted for their colour, rarity, durability and the fact that they are a relatively new gemstone species. High quality stones are rarely put up for sale and are a sought-after collector’s item.
Tiffany & Co. and the New York-based Smithsonian Institute are said to have an impressive collection of this gemstone on display.
Healing Powers of Tanzanite:
As with most gemstones, tanzanite gems are also said to possess a lot of healing powers. The gem is said to be especially helpful in hastening recovery from serious illnesses. It’s said to strengthen the functioning of vital organs like the heart, lungs throat, head and the immune system.
Some believe the gem has the ability to detoxify the body and the mind and reduce inflammation. Wearing a tanzanite gem in a way that it touches the skin for a long period is also said to enhance positivity and the physical wellbeing of the wearer and heal diseases.