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Tanzanite Information

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BE BORN TO TANZANITETM - The Tanzanite Foundation
Tanzanite, the birthstone, is a gift given on the birth of a child. Fittingly this theme draws on inspiration that we are all born to be something special. The promise of a person begins with the earliest moments of life and every tradition cherishes and celebrates a child being born, the miracle of birth and the gift of life.

From the heart of Africa comes a powerful tradition – Maasai women that have had the honour of giving birth to a child, wear blue beads and fabric to bestow upon the child a healthy and positive life, setting themselves apart as creators of new life.

This custom, protected and preserved by the proud Maasai over generations, is now embodied in the unique colour of a mystical gem, tanzanite. Found only at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, tanzanite’s kaleidoscope of blue-violet colours draws on the mysterious beauty of its place of origin.

The gift of tanzanite at birth uniquely symbolizes new beginnings and pays tribute to those who have shown the greatest of loves by becoming a parent.   Be part of this tradition. Celebrate new life. Be born to tanzanite TM.

The above excerpt is taken from the Tanzanite Foundation website.  "Be Born to Tanzantie" is a licensced trademark of the foundation.


What is tanzanite? The transparent violetish blue variety of ziosite, called tanzanite, is a relative newcomer to the gem market.  The object of an aggressive publicity campaign by Tiffany & Company in 1967, tanzanite captured the world’s attention and has held it ever since.  Tanzanite has become the most popular gem stone sold today after the “Big Four” (diamond, ruby, sapphire, & emerald).

It is believed that the Masai herders in a town near the foothills of Munt Kilimanjaro (now part of Tanzania)  were the first people to discover this gemstone. According to popular myth, a lightning strike near the Merelani hills set surrounding grasslands on fire. When the Masai herders returned to the area with their livestock, magical blue stones appeared on the ground.  When a Portuguese geologist, named Manuel d' Souza, traveled to this area in Tanzania, several of the native herders took him to a place where these blue stones were on the ground.  

Thinking they were sapphires, he was disappointed when tests showed they were too soft.  But he still believed the stones might have some value, so he quickly staked out his claims and registered them with the government.  Despite d'Souza's efforts to keep the find a secret, word spread fast.  Before long, nearly 100 claims were staked.  This exciting new gem reached the US market in 1970.


With vast deposits in the northern part of the country near the Merelani hills, Tanzania is the primary commercial source of tanzanite. Very small deposits have been found in Kenya, but were not considered large enough for commercial purposes. Until recently.  With Tanzanite’s ongoing popularity even these small deposits are now being mined and have even been the source of armed disputes.

When heated to 600 degrees Celsius, greenish to brownish zoisite undertakes an incredible metamorphosis, resulting in the creation of this vibrant blue to blue violet gemstone, tanzanite. With hardness between 6 and 7 on the Moh’s scale, tanzanite is quite fragile, and for this reason, ultrasonic should never be used to clean this precious gem stone. However with an appropriate setting and some care, all kinds of tanzanite jewelry including tanzanite rings will provide their wearer with endless pleasure. Dazzling as tanzanite earrings and tanzanite necklaces, this rare gemstone speaks volumes about the wearer’s personality and sense of style.

In its early discovery, tanzanite was only available in small stones; however, today, larger stones have been made available, providing greater variety to the gemstone market.  The Smithsonian Institution has two notable tanzanites:  one faceted stone of 122.7 carats and a rare cat's eye tanzanite of 18.2 carats.

The lighting condition is the most critical factor when evaluating the value of these gem stones. Tanzanite will display the most blue under daylight, while the violet shade will be more apparent under incandescent light. The stone which commands the highest value is generally the one which displays minimal violet, even when it is viewed under incandescent light.

 

Click HERE to view tanzanite jewelry

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