Tanzanite is a purple/blue variety of zoisite that has become the most popular gemstone of the Caribbean. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about this stone. The truth is that the stone is truly rare, but the mines are not going to play out in two years The stone’s prices have increased in the past year, but it should never be sold as an investment.
The larger Tanzanite gems with the deep, rich color, as seen in the piece above, are very expensive. Tanzanite in its natural state comes out of the ground brownish in color. It is then heat treated, which turns the tanzanite a wonderful color of blue. This is a permanent treatment and is considered acceptable. Do not fall for the story of one tanzanite being more precious than the other because it is not treated. All tanzanites which are blue in color have been treated.
Actually tanzanite is rare because it offers two colors that your eyes can see at one time, and one other color that your eye cannot see. It shows a beautiful blue/purple in regular light, but also has a golden brown color that you cannot see.
The more intense the blue color, the more valuable the stone.
Tanzanite will generally be free of inclusions but some very fine stones will have minor needle-like inclusions. The stone is fairly soft but wears well in formal situations. They should always be well cut and proportioned.
Tanzanite is quite a ‘new’ gemstone found in the 1960s. In its natural stage it is a brownish-gray Zoisite that turns to a fantastic blue-violet color after modest heating. So who first discovered Tanzanite. Legend has it that there was an intense lightning storm in Merelani hills northeast of Arusha in Africa. A group of Masai herdsmen came across a patch of land that had been scorched by a lightning strike. They found Tanzanite crystals of a fantastic blue color and collected them up. These were eventually bartered and traded until a trader who knew gems came across them and heard the story of the Mesai. What a discovery!
It was named Tanzanite by Tiffany & Co. in the late 1960s who vigorously marketed the remarkable stone. Today it is a very popular gemstone, due to its beautiful appearance, and highly in demand.
Tanzanite is one gem we encourage travelers to price out in local stores before traveling to the Caribbean. Have your local jeweler show you their pieces. Ask questions and prices before you travel. Pay close attention to the colors of Tanzanite they offer. Generally the jewelry stores in the US offer pale blue Tanzanite or rich blue stones but only in smaller sizes. Use this information on your trip to the Caribbean when shopping. Ask questions again of the jewelers in the Caribbean.
The most desirable colors of tanzanite are generally seen in stones above 10 carats. Since the color of this stone is what determines its value, the cutter will evaluate each piece of rough before cutting to determine which cut will bring out the best color in that stone.
An informed and educated consumer always comes out a winner.