Tanzanite – 50 Years of Beauty

Posted by JewelryKind

This year 2018, Tanzanite celebrates its 50th anniversary. Back in 1968, this gorgeous gemstone was first discovered in the Merelani hills in Tanzania by Maasai tribesmen who were herding their cattle through an arid area which had recently been burnt by a bushfire. Legend has it that the fire heated the surface touching crystals turning them a bright, glistening blue. Due to Tanzanite’s trichroic nature, rough crystals look a deep brown when first mind and need to be heated to 600 degrees centigrade to turn the familiar blue violet for which the stone is revered.

The tribesmen took these newly discovered crystals to a nearby fledgling town called Arusha, where they showed them to a tailor called Manuel de Souza. Manuel had a limited knowledge of gemstones and believing them to be Sapphire he rushed to see for himself. The stones were sent to Tiffany & Company in New York where the president and grandson of the founder, Harry Platt was mesmerized. He named the new gemstone “Tanzanite” after the country of its birth.

Tiffany & Company immediately went about marketing the new stone to the elite in New York with Harry Platt describing it as “the most important gem discovery in 2000 years”. It was an instant hit and soon everybody wanted a Tanzanite.

In the ensuing 50 years, Tanzanite has become a household name and staple in every jewelry store window. Its blue-violet hues grace engagement rings across the nation and the deepest, most intense colors are coveted by collectors and investors for their rarity. Prices have risen steadily over the past half-decade and now command dizzy heights for the very finest stones which can top $2,000 per carat in some retail stores although some companies positioned at the source like Lapigems Gem Company still sell at “mouth of the mine” prices.

Tanzanite has also become a regular item on the red carpet with celebrities and even royalty choosing Tanzanite jewelry to accompany their haute couture gowns and dresses. Recently, the Duchess of Cambridge was seen wearing her full set of fine Tanzanite & Diamond jewelry here.

The very finest 1% of Tanzanite has become very rare over the past 50 years. Although most people are familiar with the paler violet stones ubiquitous in mall jewelers and catalogs, these stones are a deep, rich blue which has an almost velvety appearance to it. Due to their rarity and the belief that their prices will skyrocket after they are no longer mined or freely available in the market, they have become the preserve of knowledgeable collectors and investors.

Fifty years have passed since its discovery, there will not be another fifty. Tanzanite miners have reached 500 meters in depth and mining is becoming increasingly difficult and stones scarce. Geologists estimate that this beautiful gemstone will be mined out in the next decade. In essence, this makes Tanzanite a “one generation gemstone”. As such, it is one of the very few gems ever discovered to last but a single generation. This last decade, therefore, will be the final chance for people to obtain and own Tanzanite. If you are one of those people, you can count yourself lucky indeed.

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