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10 Interesting Facts about Tanzanite Gemstone from Tanzania, East Africa

Tanzanite is a fascinating blue and violet gemstone found only in Tanzania, East Africa. It’s a naturally occurring stone of zoisite mineral belonging to the epidote group

It’s quickly becoming desirable in Africa and globally, just like the rubies and diamonds.

The unusual gemstone exhibits a sticking blue color that makes it very appealing, thus becoming a point of interest for celebrities on sparking public interests and red carpets.

Many jewelers within and outside Africa have come up with different design options for this gemstone, perfect for adornment and beautification.  

But do you know much about this African gemstone? Read on to discover the ten (10) facts about tanzanite that will engross you.

1. The first discovery of tanzanite in Tanzania was in 1967

Around the 1960s, precisely in 1967, an Indian tailor named Manuel De Souza traveled to Tanzania searching for gold and gemstones; he discovered tanzanite.

According to a brief record about the discovery, Manuel spotted a glistening stone in the soil while walking through Mountain Kilimanjaro foothill. 

He then mined it and brought out tanzanite. He concluded that the shining stone appeared too soft to be a sapphire, which made him put the gemstone under the “zoisite” group of minerals. 

2. Tanzanite has remarkably strong trichroism.

Tanzanite exhibits trichroism, which implies perceptible colors from different angles under various lights. 

It displays alternately blue color, burgundy, and violet based on the crystal orientation, making it an unusual gemstone.

On the other hand, it shows purple, yellow, blue, or even red, at times, making it highly appealing and eye-catching for jewelers.

3. Tanzanite is only mined in Tanzania

Globally, tanzanite mining is available in Tanzania, East Africa. The tectonic plates and the morphing evolved in a distinct mix that exists in no other place than Tanzania.

It’s only found in Tanzania, in a tiny mining area near the Mererani Hills, measuring roughly 2 km (1.2 mi) wide and 7 km (4.3 mi) long.

As the popularity of this stone grows by the day, miners dig more profound than usual, reaching 800 meters beneath the soil surface to discover it.

At present, the tanzanite mines in Tanzania span approximately 14 sq. km. The government of Tanzania regulates its mining, exploration, and trading to ensure that it remains sustainable and ethical.

4. Tanzanite is a rich blue, violet gemstone of Zoisite containing traces of Vanadium

Tanzanite is a rich blue and violet unusual gemstone variety of Zoisite exhibiting a reddish-brown color in its rough form. 

Not just that, before you can call any mineral tanzanite, there must be a trace of “Vanadium.”

After extracting the stone from the soil, it should undergo a heating process for 30 minutes at 600˚C to remove the target mineral.

The processing method transforms the stone into the associated color of tanzanite, vibrant blue color. 

Note that the deeper tanzanite appears, the more expensive, fascinating, and desirable it will be.  

5. Tanzanite became the birthstone for December in 2002

After Sapphire, tanzanite is the second-most incredibly fastest selling colored gemstone, which has gained popularity since 1967.

However, in 2002, American Gem Trade Association added tanzanite amongst turquoise and zircon as December birthstone. 

It became the first gemstone to officially get into the list of birthstones after 1912, indicating how contemporary and popular tanzanite is evolving in the gemstone industry.

6. The largest tanzanite ever mined happened in 2020

The discovery of the two largest, rough tanzanite gemstones was in 2020, after 15 years of recovering the largest one that weighed 3.38kg, a commercial mining company found.

The gemstone’s size was quite surprising because nobody anywhere or the mine had ever seen anything of that nature.

Saniniu Laizer from Simanjiro district in Manyara discovered tanzanites that weighed 5.80 kilograms and 9.27 kilograms. He earned over £ 2 million (3.35m Tanzanian shillings) by selling to the mining ministry of tanzanite, Tanzania.

Saniniu Laizer’s miners extracted the two dark violet-blue gemstones, which measured about 30cm long and 10cm thick each.

The discoverer said he planned to use his gain from the gemstone to construct a school and shopping mall for his local community while sharing 10% of his workers’ earnings.

7. The largest fine-colored tanzanite carving is called ‘L’heure Bleu.’

An award-winning art jeweler, Naomi Sarna, visited Tanzania mines in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro and hand-carved some tanzanite pieces into the 702-carat L’Heure Bleu. It became the world’s largest and finest color tanzanite carving.

The world-class gem carver was assigned to carve a unique feature for an international competition that will significantly benefit the Maasai people (the tribe residing at the tanzanite mines, Tanzania). 

Sarna surprisingly made the world-best carving on an invitation trip to Tanzania, called ‘L’heure Bleu’ (sitting on a Sterling Silver base) from rough tanzanite piles.

L’Heure Bleu won an accolade for carving in the First-Place Spectrum Award for the Gem Trade Association of America, assembled on a Sterling Silver base inspired by the Great Rift Valley’s winds.

8. The gemstone inspires new life, calmness, and compassion.

According to the Maasai tribe that lives in the tanzanite mining area, the gemstone encourages compassion and calmness.

Again, they believe that it supports the creation of new life. The Maasai people associate all these beliefs with the deep blue color it exhibits.  

9. Tanzanite is 1000 times rarer than diamonds.

Tanzanian geologists that rare and beautiful gemstone is a thousand times rarer than diamonds. 

According to their proof, exceptional circumstances led to the formation of the tanzanite about 585 million years ago. 

And the conditions include tectonic shift, which formed Tanzania’s Great Rift Valley and Mount Kilimanjaro.

The “once-in-a-lifetime events” are so extraordinary that there is no likelihood of finding them elsewhere on the earth’s surface, making it one in a mullion and 1000 times rarer than the diamonds.

As a result, some of the geologists of Tanzania named the tanzanite “one generation gemstone.”

10. There are many theories about tanzanite discovery.

Usually, there used to be various theories for great discoveries. People give two different postulations about its discovery: Manuel De Souza and Maasai herders.

Manuel De Souza, an Indian tailor, discovered this gemstone in 1967 – refer to fact no.1.

However, this discoverer further attributes the finding of tanzanite to the Maasai herders.

The typical story is that the Maasai herders first found blue crystals in 1967 while tending their livestock on the Merelani Hills, near Arusha, Tanzania. 

After that, the herders notified Manuel before he quickly registered claims with the Tanzanian government to start mining.

What stone is Tanzania known for?

Tanzania is famous for its beautiful gemstone, tanzanite, and other great variety of gems such as tourmaline, ruby, garnet, and fancy-colored Sapphire, which all emerged in the 1960s.

What’s unique about tanzanite?

Tanzanite is so exceptional for its unusual blue, violet color. It also radiates three other colors, blue, violet, and red, from each of its crystallographic axes in its rough form.

Why is tanzanite only in Tanzania?

Tanzanite is only in Tanzania because the tectonic plates and the morphing evolved in a distinct mix that exists in no other place.

Does tanzanite come from Tanzania?

Absolutely, yes; tanzanite exists only in the northern part of Tanzania and no other place globally.

Bottom End

People worldwide embrace this gemstone for its beauty, quality, and other astrological reasons. And as the rareness of the tanzanite increases by the day, the prizes of jewelry made from it become heirlooms.

The fascinating facts above about tanzanite will inspire you if you’re interested in the rare stone.

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