Tanzanite Buying Guide

About Tanzanite

Cushion Medium Blue TanzaniteOne of the most cherished and sought-after gemstones in the world today Tanzanite is blue-purple to purple blue stone belonging to family of zoisite.  The name tanzanite was a trade name coined by Tiffany shortly after the gem's discovery, an obvious allusion to its country of origin.  Violet is the secondary hue found in Tanzanites and responsible for beautiful tints of shades.  The gem is also known for displaying gorgeous color spectrum which is a result of its trichroic nature.  Tanzanite is extremely light sensitive, with incandescent light tending to shift its color to the violet side and causing red and pink flashes to appear within the stone.
Apart from its mesmerizing deep color tanzanite is also cherished because of its clarity and brilliance.  Clarity is the second most important of the 4 Cs when considering Tanzanite quality.  Clarity simply refers to how inclusion-free a gemstone is.  The basic rule with Tanzanite is that it should be at least eye clean but preferably loupe clean also.  Top grade stones are loupe clean.  Any lesser clarity grade will affect the value downwards and denotes a lower grade stone.  In the market, tanzanites are found in a variety of shapes and cutting styles.  Ovals and cushions are the most common, but rounds are also seen, as are other shapes, including emerald cuts, trillions, etc.  Cabochon-cut tanzanites are not often seen.

Tanzanite Jewelry

With its breathtaking color and striking brilliance tanzanite goes well with almost every kind of jewelry.  Diamonds and white gold add charisma to its brilliance and luster.  Its use with yellow gold gives it a deep heady appearance.  Tanzanite is usually worn as an earring or pendant.  When worn in ring it is usually bezel set to protect it.  Tanzanites are a good choice of center pieces in jewelry items.  It is not rare to find large sized tanzanite stones, so look for those that best suit your budget.

Tanzanite Treatment & Enhancements

It is a norm in the gem trade for almost all gems to undergo some form of treatment or the other.  In fact, literary evidences of treatments of gems are found as far back as Pliny the Elder(23-79 AD).  Clarity and color of a tanzanite improve drastically with heat treatment.  Due to the permanent nature of this treatment the gemstones do not alter in quality, only in appearance.
Virtually all tanzanite of a blue violet color has been heat-treated to enhance the color.  In the rough state most Tanzanite is predominantly brown.  Heating at 500 to 600 degrees centigrade causes this color to change to blue.  This is a permanent and stable change.

Tanzanite Care

Use mild soapy water to clean your Tanzanite of fingerprint stains and other impurities.  Rinse thoroughly.  True color and radiance may get obscured by dirt and fingerprints.  Use a special cloth in cleaning your Tanzanite.  This avoids all impurities that may be applied to your gems by using cloths to clean other items.

The Origin of Tanzanite

A Masaai tribesman stumbled upon a shimmering blue crystal in the foothills of Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro in 1967.  The stone was at first mistaken to be Sapphire but was later identified belonging to the family of mineral Ziosite.  Tanzanite is named after its country of origin and was conceived by Tiffany and co. From 1967 to 1972, an estimated two million carats of tanzanite were mined in Tanzania.  The mines were later nationalized by the Tanzanian government.  In June 2003, the Tanzanian government introduced legislation banning the export of unprocessed tanzanite to India (like many gemstones, most tanzanite is cut here).  The ban has been rationalized as an attempt to spur development of local processing facilities, thereby boosting the economy and recouping profits.  This ban was phased in over the next two years, until which time only stones over 0.5 grams were affected.  In April 2005, a company called TanzaniteOne Ltd. publicly announced that they had taken control of the portion of the tanzanite deposit known as "C-Block" (the main deposit is divided into five blocks).  In August 2005 the largest tanzanite crystal was found in the C-Block mine.  TanzaniteOne, through its no-profit subsidiary, The Tanzanite Foundation, has introduced its own color grading system.  The new system's color-grading scales divide tanzanite colors into a range of hues, between blue violet and violet blue.

Tanzanite in History

Tanzanite became a big hit after its enthusiastic reception by Tiffany.  Especially more so because it seemed as a potential replacement stone for Sapphire.  Today Tanzanite has its own repute distinct than that of sapphire.  Hailed as the Gemstone of the twentieth century, the supply of tanzanite is likely to exhaust itself by our generation.

Tanzanite Buying Tips

Tanzanites are primarily judged on the basis of their color.  There is no perfect basic hue for tanzanite as it looks equally stunning in purple blue as it does in blue purple.  One should look for stones that are medium to dark tones with rich color.  Tanzanites have good clarity so you should always go for stones that are clean.  They are not rare to find in large sizes so it's better to go for bigger size stone as they are more concentrated in color and display brilliant trichroism.

Lab Created Tanzanite

A lab-created simulant of tanzanite is called tanzanique.  It closely mimics the color of natural tanzanite however it does not display the same trichroism. Tanzanite is the mineral zoisite, while tanzanique is forsterite.  Several different hues of CZ have also come into use as tanzanite simulants.  A popular hue is a medium-light periwinkle blue.  Another is a deeper purplish-blue.  Angara does not deal in lab created tanzanites.

Fun Fact

  • The largest tanzanite crystal was found in 2005.The crystal weigh 16,839 carats and measured 22 cm x 8 cm x 7 cm.
  • Green Tanzanite is the rarest type of Tanzanite available.
  • The gemstone is reddish brown in color when at raw state.  After extraction, it is treated in a gemological oven and then is fitted into jewelry.
  • Birthstone for the December born, besides blue Topaz.
  • Linked to Sagittarius and Capricorns, the stone is believed to make its bearer a confident and sophisticated personality.
  • Top quality tanzanite gemstones are valuable, rare, and increasingly in demand.
  • Spiritual and Healing Properties of Tanzanite are periodically mentioned.  They say Tanzanite is a calming stone.  It brings you back into balance.  The tanzanite will help to manifest desires through will and vision.  It gives personal insight and power.
  • The world's largest faceted tanzanite is 737.81 carats.  One of the most famous large tanzanites (242 carats) is the "Queen of Kilimanjaro".  It is set in a tiara and accented with 803 brilliant cut tsavorite garnets and 913 brilliant cut diamonds.  The tiara is currently on display in the Gallery of Gold and Gems at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.