All The Brilliants

The Skinny on Tanzanite

Tanzanite has a very short history compared to most all colored gemstones. It is said that a Massai tribesman discovered this charismatic stone in 1967. A year later, Tiffany & Co made this blue-violet mineral (zoisite) a sensation when it introduced it to the world as “Tanzanite”.

While it is only found in Tanzania, its pleochroic color possibilities range beyond blue and violet hues!

There is a wonderful story that a lightening strike caused fire in the grasslands, whose heat transformed the naturally brownish-greenish-yellow zoisite into the intensely ravishing blue-violet we know well.

Bryan Aderhold of Nash James sat down with me to share “The Skinny on Tanzanite” along with a few of these vibrant, iconic stones - and one that will surprise and delight!

During our chat, we discuss a few points that will help you understand value and what to ask to make an informed decision on the Tanzanite you will LOVE!

 
All The Brilliants
 

 
Skinny On Tanzanite
 

 
Tanzanite What To Know

This ideal Tanzanite specimen is courtesy of Nash James for the purpose of education - 2.49 carats.


Tanzanite has a very short history compared to most all colored gemstones. It is said that a Massai tribesman discovered this charismatic stone in 1967. A year later, Tiffany & Co made this blue-violet mineral (zoisite) a sensation when it introduced it to the world as “Tanzanite”.

While it is only found in Tanzania, its pleochroic color possibilities range beyond blue and violet hues!

There is a wonderful story that a lightning strike caused fire in the grasslands, whose heat transformed the naturally brownish-greenish-yellow zoisite into the intensely ravishing blue-violet we know well.

Bryan Aderhold of Nash James sat down with me to share “The Skinny on Tanzanite” along with a few of these vibrant, iconic stones - and one that will surprise and delight!

During our chat, we discuss a few points that will help you understand value and what to ask to make an informed decision on the tanzanite you will LOVE!

 

 
 

The Skinny on Tanzanite - what to know

SCROLL DOWN TO FIND OUT!


 

MAKOVA

@MakovaJewelry creates color rich jewels that beautifully balance being timeless and innovative. Her 15 carat tanzanite cocktail ring is a testament to this!

Tanzanite is known for its strong blue-violet hue, but it is not the hardest stone at 6 - 7 on the Mohs scale. This means it is susceptible to scratching and damage from contact with harder surfaces.

With this in mind, Marianna’s design protects the stone, while dynamic “holes” in the setting enable the stone to be seen and “lit” from multiple angles.

Such stones are too spectacular not to enjoy and as you can see, Tanzanite is perfectly suited as a cocktail ring!

Marianna was also kind to share with us a peek into her creative process along the way to a finished piece!

 

 

LOREN NICOLE

Tanzanite’s captivating blue-violet color shifting can be even more beautiful when celebrating the perfect “imperfections” called inclusions. My happy obsession with the cabochon cut might have crossed your radar in November, so please excuse me as I gush on about how delicious it is - especially in the hands of @LorenNicoleJewelry!

Beyond the color POW of Tanzanite, Loren has her unique way of pushing it even further with high karat yellow gold - which is exclusively recycled or fairmined. She has closely studied (literally in archeological trenches) the ancient metalsmithing techniques of our ancient ancestors to create these unforgettable jewels, like this pendant!

 
Tanzanite Education - the ideal

The ideal Tanzanite displays an intense variation of a blue-violet or violet-blue hue, depending on the angle the stone is viewed and the kind of light. This optical phenomenon is called pleochroism, which means sometimes a stone will appear more blue and other times more violet depending on these conditions.

As mentioned above, Tanzanite is of the mineral group zoisite, which naturally has more earthy brownish-greenish-yellow tones. Heat treatment transforms stones into the rich blue-violet range, but sometimes exceptional stones are found in an array of beautiful colors in their natural state. These are rare and therefore can be more valuable than their blue-violet siblings.

Another factor that effects value is clarity. While stones with inclusions can be stunning, those that have a clear, intense color are the most prized. Tanzanites that display more pale hues also have a lower market value.

Regardless of what is the market "ideal”, what matters most is the stone that moves you!

Tanzanite Education - location location location

Tanzanite is found in an area about 2.5 miles wide and 1.25 miles long among the Mererani Hills at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. 

This tiny area is the only known place on earth that formed zoisite in such unique circumstances 585 million years ago. It is believed that the odds of finding tanzanite anywhere else on earth is one in a million.

For these reasons, tanzanite is a finite resource, although it is not known how much material remains or when the mine will be depleted.

Tanzanite Education - is it treated

Heat treatment is an accepted practice and is the “norm”. Most of us would not recognize Tanzanite in its natural form - unless Mother Nature heated it herself!

Out of the ground, colors can be an array of subdued brown, green, yellow or even blue. The super saturated color we associate with tanzanite does exist naturally, although infrequently.

Those very rare, untreated tanzanites whose beauty is naturally exceptional command a premium in the market that exceeds the value of treated stones.

Tanzanite Education - the Mohs Scale of Hardness

The Mohs scale of hardness is important to consider when choosing a particular stone for a particular kind of wear. Mohs scale is the degree of mineral “hardness”, measured by the resistance which a smooth surface offers to abrasion: 1 (soft) to 10 (hard). For example, an 8 will scratch a gemstone that is a 7 or below. Simply put, the softer the stone, the more careful you need to be about wearing that stone in jewelry that may be exposed to more wear.

Tanzanite, while still in the hard range, is a 6 - 7. As it is more susceptible to every day scratches and damage with accidental bumps, choosing kinds of jewelry (i.e. cocktail rings, necklaces or earrings) that will encounter less contact with harder surfaces is a good option. While tanzanite can be enjoyed as an everyday ring, be aware it is vulnerable to scratches over time and at some point it may require polishing.

Tanzanite Education - wear and care

A few jewelry care basics can keep your pieces looking their best, avoid damage and loss of gemstones.

WEAR: When dressing for day or night, jewelry should be the last thing on and the first thing off. Contact with chemicals such as fragrance, hairspray, nail polish remover, household cleaners and chlorine can harm jewelry. Remove jewelry when cleaning, gardening, swimming or playing sports, as contact with hard surfaces can scratch and damage them.

CHECK SETTINGS AND STONES: Inspect jewelry before wearing it to check if stone is chipped, loose or rattles in settings.

CLEANING: All precious metals, gemstones and pearls should be cleaned regularly, but require different care. For example, ultrasonic cleaners can crack opals, shatter pearls or diminish their appearance. For gemstones on the Mohs scale at 7 or above, a simple cleaning solution is warm water with mild soap and soft toothbrush. For those at 6 or below, replace the toothbrush with a soft cloth. Be sure the jewel is thoroughly rinsed and dry prior to storage. A soft polishing cloth will keep any precious metal looking its best. 

STORAGE: Definitely keep tanzanite jewelry individually stored in a pouch or box to avoid scratches and abrasions from other gemstones and metal, as well as general tangles and dents.

INSURANCE: For any jewelry of significant value, be sure to have it appraised, file any provenance and gemstone certifications in a secure place and be sure to have it insured.


Tanzanite What To Know

TANZANITE A is a 15.76 carat not heat treated cushion cut tanzanite.

TANZANITE B is a 2.49 carat heat treated cushion cut tanzanite.

TANZANITE C is a 2.30 carat heat treated cushion cut tanzanite.


Tanzanite What To Know

TANZANITE A is the most valuable!

TANZANITE A is 13.8 times more valuable than TANZANITE B.

TANZANITE C is 1.2 times more valuable than TANZANITE B.

Sometimes size does not matter, but larger tanzanites of a certain quality are rare. An added significance is that TANZANITE A is not treated in any way. Even though it has a lighter hue that is not the deep color we think of as tanzanite, its unique beauty greatly elevates the value.

TANZANITE B and TANZANITE C are similar in size and have the same cut. However, TANZANITE C demonstrates more saturated blue-violet hues compared to the lighter tones of TANZANITE B.

The most important distinction beyond what the market dictates is the stone that is uniquely beautiful to you!

Follow @AllTheBrilliants on Instagram for more tanzanite jewelry!