Rock Profile: Tanzanite


We’re taking a closer look at tanzanite on the QGossip blog today because we’ve got an incredible Today’s Special Value offer coming up on Thursday 6th August to mark our Theatre of Gems mini-event.

651777 TSV

This exquisite ring in luxurious platinum showcases two of the world’s most treasured gems; a sumptuous ‘AAAA’ tanzanite stone bordered with a halo of classic diamonds that continue onto the shoulders of the delicate band. A timeless design, it’s the perfect way to express your everlasting love and affection for that someone special – especially if you’re thinking of popping that question, chaps.

It’s also worth noting that, in 2002, the American Gem Trade Association made the first change to their birthstone list since 1912, choosing tanzanite as a December birthstone – so this also makes a gorgeous gift for anyone born at the end of the year, perhaps as a Christmas present, especially because it’ll be available on three interest-free Easy Pay instalments.

Tanzanite is one of gemstone expert Mark Walker’s favourite gems – he talked briefly to us about it:

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So… what exactly is tanzanite? And why is it such big deal?

Tanzanite is the bluey-violet variety of the mineral zoisite, renowned for its ability to appear differently when viewed under alternate lighting conditions. Blue tones are more visible when the stones are subjected to fluorescent light, and violet hues can be seen readily when viewed under incandescent illumination.

Tanzanite is graded from ‘A’ to ‘AAAA’ and this denotes the intensity of colour – ‘AAAA’  tanzanite has the deepest saturation of colour, and every ring will come with its own AnchorCert report from Birmingham Assay Office that guarantees this vivid intensity. It’s worth noting that only 0.2% of all tanzanite mined is fine enough to be designated ‘AAAA’  quality, so with our TSV you know you’re getting something extraordinarily rare.

The first stones were discovered in northern Tanzania in 1967, near the city of Arusha and Mount Kilimanjaro; naturally formed tanzanite is extremely rare, still found only in the Merelani Hills. Manuel de Souza, a tailor and part-time gold prospector living in Arusha, found transparent fragments of vivid blue and blue-purple gem crystals on a ridge. He assumed that the mineral was peridot, but after realising it wasn’t he instead concluded it was dumortierite, a blue semi-precious mineral.

Tanzanite_1(Tanzanie) 2

Soon the stones were shown to John Saul, a Nairobi-based geologist and gemstone wholesaler who was mining aquamarine in the foothills of Mount Kenya and had a Ph.D. from M.I.T. – one of the United States’ renowned Ivy League universities.

Saul eliminated dumortierite and cordierite as possibilities, and sent samples to his father, Hyman Saul, vice president at the legend Saks Fifth Avenue department store in New York City. He, in turn, took the samples across the street to the Gemological Institute of America, where they were correctly identified as a variety of zoisite.

The name, perhaps unsurprisingly, was created by marketing people (how very ‘Mad Men’). World-renowned jewellers Tiffany & Co. came up with the name for an advertising campaign, referencing the rarity of where it is found by name-checking Tanzania – the original campaign advertised that tanzanite could now be found in two places: “in Tanzania and at Tiffany’s”.

Of course, tanzanite is now available at a large number of specialist jewellers, including QVC UK – tune in on Wedneday night at midnight to see the Today’s Special Value offer, or browse for other tanzanite rings here.

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