Tanzanite was first discovered in 1967 in Tanzania, East Africa, the land of the Masai. However it is believed that the gemstone is more than 600 million years old. Tanzanite was discovered entirely by chance and is the second most precious gemstone in the world, 1000 times rarer than diamonds. Tanzanite is also a bi-coloured stone which always shows either blueVIOLET, which is the more common colour of the two meaning the stone is more violet in colour or violetBLUE where the stone is more blue in colour. It can be found on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro at foot of the Merelani Hills. Tanzanite only has one known source in the whole world.
The mineral name for Tanzanite is ‘Blue Zoisite’. There was much controversy over what to name this new stone. Many people said that Tanzanite should be named after it mineral like many other stones before. However the word ”Zoisite” in the English language sounds remarkably similar to another word with a very different meaning, namely, suicide. Tanzanite eventually got its name before being released into the market in 1968 by the famous jewellery company ”Tiffany & Co.”
For years since Tanzanite’s discovery many geologists have tried to figure out just how this marvelous gemstone came to be. East Africa is under huge geological pressure and there is a major rift in the Earths crust. In order for minerals to be formed you need heat and energy and because of the rift in East Africa there is more than enough energy to explain the abundance of minerals that can be found in Africa.
The mines in Merelani are divided into 4 sections. Section A, section B, section C and section D. Finally now after 50 years of mining Tanzanite can no longer be found near the surface. Instead miners need to mine much deeper from about 80m. This makes mining extremely dangerous.
Tanzanite is a relatively soft stone measuring about a 6.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Raw and untreated Tanzanite contain vernadium gas which when heated either by the Earth or by man allows the magical colour change in Tanzanite to take place. After the stone has been heated applying more heat to the stone will cause the stone to either shatter or break. This is another reason that Tanzanite is hand cut. Tanzanite can be relatively easy to facet and polish. The initial cutting process is where most of the risk lies.
One of the biggest Tanzanite stones ever found was a whopping 737.81 carats after being faceted. The most important Tanzanite ever found is the Queen of Kilimanjaro found exactly at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro weighing in at 242 carats after being faceted. The queen of Kilimanjaro is set into a gold tiara with 803 Tsavorites and 913 round brilliant cut Diamonds.
Tanzanite is the official birthstone for the month of December. Tanzanite symbolizes fertility as well as good health in unborn children.