Tanzanite is regarded as a gemstone. The word may not be very popular among those who are familiar with other gemstones. Of course, they are not to be blamed. Tanzanites are not as advertised as some of the other precious stones that fall under the same league in terms of rarity. Thus, people – who perhaps could relate more to gold, silver, diamonds, platinum, rubies and sapphire – are usually ignorant of this magnificent blue gem.
Tanzanite was originally known as ‘blue zoisite’ – named after the parent mineral– after it was discovered in Tanzania, which still remains the only place in the world where tanzanites are found. At first it was mistakenly thought to be a mineral called ‘dumortierite’, but upon further testing, the identification test results were negative. Later the blue gem was identified as a descendant of zoisite by a government employed geologist named Ian McCloud, also from Tanzania. The blue gem was later advertised by the famous jeweler house Tiffany and co. who renamed it as ‘Tanzanite’, no doubt naming it after the country from which it hailed. The reason for renaming was because the company thought that the name ‘blue zoisite’ sounded horribly like ‘suicide’. It was marketed as a rare gemstone by the company. Although the company initially thought that the gemstone would not sell much, today as much as five hundred million US dollars’ worth of tanzanite jewelry is sold in the United States each year.
Tanzanite has a magnificent blue color. It can appear in a variety of shades of blue: blue, purple and burgundy, depending upon the rare quality. In its raw form, it is reddish brown in color, and has to undergo a heating treatment up to six hundred degree Celsius to turn that reddish brown color to a range of bluish shades. Tanzanite is usually soft in nature; it lacks the hard quality of precious stones like diamonds and as such, is not used in necklaces or earrings. It is recommended that it be handled carefully and not brought near to acids. The world’s biggest raw tanzanite that has been mined has a mammoth weight of almost seven hundred and thirty-eight carets. Then there is the ‘Queen of Kilimanjaro’, a tanzanite worth of two hundred and forty-two carets. This exquisite discovery – also containing a large amount of diamonds – has been used in making a particular tiara which, undoubtedly is one of the most rare and immaculate piece of creations, and is displayed in the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada.
When generally thought of engagement and wedding rings, preferences that come to mind automatically are diamonds, platinum and gold. Tanzanite may not be the first choice. Again, one of the reasons may be its lack of popularity among the common people. While diamonds, platinum and gold are widely known as expensive and lavish, tanzanite is known as neither. But tanzanite rings can be just as splendid. Its one-of-a-kind sparkly bluish-violet color gives it an opulence that is unmatched. They can come in various shapes and designs, often accompanied with other gemstones and precious metals. These rings can come in a single oval-cut tanzanite in the center with a platinum band, in tanzanite strips perpetuated by encrusted diamonds, in multiple tanzanite stones outlined with tiny pink sapphires, in an emerald-cut tanzanite bounded by white gold, and the like.
Tanzanite gems require large-scale advertisement efforts for it to be perceived at par with other gemstones like diamonds and rubies, which are both available and revered in these parts of the world as expensive precious stones. Only then its market could grow beyond the west.