Why do you need to know tanzanite? With its blue-violet shine, tanzanite is not inferior to the much better known and more expensive blue gemstone, sapphire. And actually not inferior to diamond either, that is about 1000 times more common.
How rare? Tanzanite is only found in one mine in the Mererani Hills in – you guessed it – Tanzania. One of the rarest gems in the world.
When was it discovered? Only in 1967. Because the official English name ‘blue zoisite’ was not commercial enough and sounded too much like ‘blue suicide’, the marketing division of Tiffany & Co. came up with the name ‘tanzanite’.
Price tag? Polished top-quality tanzanite costs between $2,000 and $3,000 per carat, smaller stones cost a fraction. A jewelers trick to make the color even more intense: heat up the stone to about 400 degrees.
Spotted at? Film star Elizabeth Taylor, who was a fan of tanzanite. When Christie’s auctioned off her jewelry collection in 2011, some famous specimens of it came on the market. In addition to Tiffany’s, Chopard, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels often work with tanzanite. In our country jeweler Jochen Leën is the specialist in such color stones.
Controversy? When al-Qaeda turned out to be smuggling tanzanite to finance the terrorist organization, there was a short American boycott.
Record holder? Very recently, in June 2020, the two largest pieces ever mined: one of 9.27 kilograms and one of 5.1 kilograms. The previous record was 3.37 kilograms in 2005. Local mining manager Saniniu Laizer sold the stones to the Tanzanian government for 3.3 million dollars. They are now on display in the National Museum in Dar es Salaam. With the proceeds, Laizer promised to build a shopping mall and a school in his village.
Solid as a rock? Tanzanite has a hardness of 6-7, which makes it more suitable for earrings and necklaces than for rings, which are much more scratch-sensitive.