The Origins of Tanzanite

Long ago I fell in love with tanzanite, this beautiful blue gemstone that seemed to change color as effortlessly and gracefully as the ripples in the sea. My mother gave me my first tanzanite jewelry – a beautiful teardrop tanzanite pendant, hung from a simple short chain. She had purchased this pendant in Africa, during a visit to Tanzania. At the time of her visit, the gemstone was not widely recognized outside the small area in which it was mined, and I believe my mother purchased the tanzanite pendant at an incredible discount. I say this because these days, tanzanite is widely popular, and now this pendant would be worth much more if I resold it on the marketplace.

Why is tanzanite so highly prized? Because it is only found one place in the world – in mines near Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. One company, TanzaniteOne, mines the tanzanite and sends it in-country to jewelers and cutters. If you were to stand in one of the mines and witness the beginning of this process, however, you would not recognize the tanzanite. Unlike some gemstones, tanzanite does not exhibit its brilliant blue tones naturally. In its natural state, Tanzanite stones are brownish red. Heat is what


Look at the size of that tanzanite gemstone!

brings out the brilliant blues and violet colors.

So you might wonder, then, how the tanzanite we love – the breathtaking blue and deep indigo tanzanite – was discovered (and showcased at Well, the legend says – or so the legend was told to my mother – that Maasai cattle herders (The Maasai being the native peoples within Tanzania) first noticed what we know as tanzanite in the 1960s, after a fire had burned through large areas of the country. The Maasai discovered that previous dull brown “rocks” had morphed to gemstones showcasing incredible deep blue and dark purple colors – all due to the heat from the fire. And that was how tanzanite was discovered, and how the process of utilizing heat to bring out the blues and violets was established.

This information was all confirmed by one of the leading sources of information on the stone on the internet – Tanzanite Rings HQ – which not only helps those searching for reputable tanzanite jewelers, but who also compiles information about the gemstone and its origins on its site and is the number one provider of high quality Tanzanite Engagement Rings. While the stone was officially added to the birthstone list (for December) in 2002 by the American Gem Trade Association, there is not much in the way of folklore and superstition about tanzanite – because it’s so new to the world.

This is one of the reasons I love tanzanite and appreciate the happy circumstances of its discovery. It’s one of the newest discovered gemstones, and yet one that has a captivating story and history, regardless of its length.


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