The Mystery of Tanzanite

The Mystery of Tanzanite

Written by Francesca Glos on 23 October 2015

Many beautiful gemstones can be found across Tanzania in eastern Africa from tantalizing turquoise to the earthy Fledspar but perhaps one of the most spectacular is tanzanite, its name linking directly to its birth place. What I find so unique about this stone is that it can only be found in this part of the world; it is a rare stone and so sought after because of its beautiful tones of blue and shades of purple making it a true keepsake. But perhaps what makes this stone that extra special is its heart-warming stories that accompany it, with many describing on how it was discovered.

As most stones use heat to draw out the vivid colours, the stories suggests that the stones may have been formed from a bush fire and once the fire had died out the vibrant stones were left in its place. Another suggests that the tanzanite stone was brought to the world’s attention when a local huntsman found the stones and believed they were sapphires - both stories showing a charm of naivety. Tanzanite has also kept its tradition from its birthplace, where blue gifts were given to new born babies making it an ideal present for a christening gift. Tanzanite is an exceptional stone and is said to be a thousand times rarer than a diamond and its geology will never be truly understood making it for me a stone of not only beauty but mystery too.

To transform this beautiful stone into a stunning piece of jewellery and uncover its hidden mystery it’s important to understand what materials can be used alongside this charming gem. The ideal metals to use would be platinum and palladium because of their well known durability which would not only help to keep the stone secure but compliment tanzanite with its white-like sheen alongside the vivid blues and purple shades. To achieve a traditional and vintage-style look yellow gold can also pair well with the colourful gem. For a more modern design, tanzanite can look beautiful set within white gold, however a choice would need to be made as to whether the ring should be white rhodium plated as over time this would wear and the ring would need to be re-plated. As tanzanite should not be exposed to ultrasonic or steam cleaning this could prove difficult as this method is often used when re-rhodium plating white gold rings.

Scoring a 6.5 to 7 on the Moh’s scale, tanzanite should be worn with care as it is similar to peridot and tourmaline, in that it can scratch relatively easily and like emeralds, it is very brittle and a single blow could cause the stone to split. Choosing the correct setting can help keep the stone slightly more secure. Closed settings like bezel, channel and pave settings are the best way to keep the stone safe and any claw setting should hold any corner of the stone. A tanzanite’s cut can range from oval to pear through to princess or emerald but what is important to consider is that the corners aren’t over exposed as this could encourage impact and possible cracks.

Tanzanite is one of the world’s rarest stones in the world and is said to be here today but gone tomorrow so it may be worth considering the “Queen of Kilimanjaro” which is thought to be the world’s largest faceted tanzanite set within a white gold tiara along with 803 garnets and 913 diamonds, weighing 242 carats!