No Stone Left Unturned
When it comes to different gemstones, most of us are familiar with the common ones such as diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, opals, and pearls. These gemstones have been around for centuries, and are therefore the most familiar to us. Pirates and thieves have coveted these gemstones, and their stories have been told over and over again throughout the course of history. It is not very often these days that we hear of a new precious gemstone being introduced to the public, but in 1967, Tanzanite was discovered in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. This stone was first incorrectly identified as olivina (peridot), then later thought to be a blue non-gem mineral.
Once it was discovered that the new stones discovered had never before been identified, they were given the geological name blue zoisite but called Tanzanite for the country in which it was discovered. In its natural state, this stone is actually a reddish-brown color. Once it is heated above 600 degrees Celsius, however, it takes on its bluish purple hue which it is known for.
This stone is truly a rare gem and was mined in the Mount Kilimanjaro region from 1967-1972 before the Tanzania government nationalized the mines. Tiffany & Co. was the first company to capitalize on the rarity of this stone, bringing the beauty of this purple-hued precious gem to the public eye in the 1970′s. Since then, many other jewelers have also begun capitalizing on the rarity of the stones.
Because it is a fairly soft gem, it is not often seen in very large pieces of jewelry or as large settings. Most commonly, the stone is set in earrings, necklaces, or small rings. However, the largest faceted stone has been measured at just shy of 738 carats. While it has been found in rather large stones during mining, heat treating the stones to bring out the blue or purple hues can cause cracks and bubbles in them, causing them to shatter. Thus, they are usually only seen in smaller pieces to show off the beauty of their brilliant colors while allowing their integrity to remain.
While it is not considered a birthstone, it is considered a rare and precious gem(However some people call Tanzanite a December Birthstone.). In its more purple-colored stones it is sometimes substituted for amethyst(February’s birthstone), and in its more blue form, it is sometimes mistaken for aquamarine (March’s birthstone). In the past decade, a company called TanzaniteOne, Ltd. took over the mining of the stones in one of the largest blocks, and mined the largest faceted stone to date, weighing in at 16,839 carats.
Tanzanite is perhaps one of the most beautiful rare and precious gems to be mined. Found exclusively in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, these gorgeous gemstones, when heated and faceted, sparkle with a brilliant purple or blue color which is truly unique. Since it is a fairly newly discovered gemstone, it is often mislabeled or misidentified by an untrained eye as either amethyst or aquamarine, but don’t be fooled–these stones are far rarer than either aquamarine or amethyst, and much more beautiful.