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Steve Moriarty's Travel to Tanzania

Why Purchase from Us? Because we go to the Source!

My first sales of Tanzanite were in the late 1970’s when I traveled selling gems to retailers in the Midwest.

Steve with Tanzanite Miners

The stone was almost an unknown to jewelers and the public alike.   The price was very high and supply limited.  As I remember tanzanite at that time was wholesaling at over $1500 per carat.  I recall seeing goods in Tucson in 1981 at prices of $2800 per carat and then it still was very limited supply. 

Steve Over Tanzanite Mine

Not until 1991 did I start to see the influx of large quantities of material.  One of my friends at the time was the largest importer of Tanzanite into the U.S.  I would pick him up at the airport and had the opportunity to select from the material he brought with him.  I will never forget one trip where the quantity he brought back was so large it took days to go through the parcels of rough.  He had half a dozen metal boxes one cubic foot in size.  One had only material over 100 carats.  One with 50-100 carat gems, one with 25 to 50 carat pieces, one with 10-25 carat and several with smaller roughs.  From this material I chose hundreds of rough stones and two most notable pieces that were over 250 carats each and I cut a 97 carat and a 122 carat, both antique cushions.  The ninety-seven carat was one I still consider to be the finest tanzanite ever cut as it was milk of magnesia bottle blue with intense red fire blazing from the interior in a one of kind “barbarion style” antique cushion cut.  The other was a more difficult situation that I also will never forget.  Upon removing it from the oven after the heat treatment I looked at the gem and it was black as coal.  In my experience too dark was not a possibility so I was quite shocked and depressed.  I re-cut this gem 3 times before it was light enough and finally ended up with a 69 carat that has a most beautiful color, that of the finest of sapphire.  This particular gem has had an interesting history after cutting.  I had sold this gem to a then famous jewelry designer and good friend, Francois “Skip” Bodinet, who unfortunately died shortly thereafter.  He had sold it to an investor and they were going to co-op on a million dollar design and I was to get some of the proceeds as he wished for me to be his gem supplier of choice.  Loosing him was a personal tragedy and destroyed my plans for our future.  It was interesting that 20 years later the investor who bought the gem walked into my retail store and asked if I could design a piece for her large tanzanite, a 69 carat sapphire blue tanzanite.  At the time we met neither one of us was aware of the connections we both had to this gem and the designer.  We hope to have a new design soon to be shown on this site for this extra-ordinary gem.
My first trip to Tanzania was in 1994 with one of my best friends and travel expert Jim Fiebig http://sellmorecolor.com/. ; It was a great trip although buying was difficult, as it often is in the country of origin on your first trip.  It took the full two weeks to locate the rough I needed but it was one of those memorable trips including side trips to Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, “the spice island” and a Safari to the Serengeti Plains.
For the next five years I cut many fine tanzanites marketing through a network of jewelers I had developed across the United States.  In the mid 1990’s I had an opportunity to develop a retail store in my home town.  Being tired of traveling year round selling to jewelers I decided to stay at home and market locally.  This changed my priorities and tanzanite became a secondary priority.
As the internet began to develop I could see an opportunity to once again market this incredible gem, tanzanite.  With my son Jeff,  who was then enrolled at Purdue University with a major in website management and marketing we started moregems.com and tanzanitejewelrydesigns.com.  For 10 years even though my son had given us high placement with Google for tanzanite search terms, it was a good but unremarkable sales tool for tanzanite.  Then in 2010 came the change to the marketability of tanzanite.   We have always produced a great product, but photographs just didn’t relay the true quality.  I purchased a high definition video camera and started adding video to our site.  The change in sales was remarkable and immediate.

My connections for tanzanite were always good but in the last few years I have developed closer ties with the mining of tanzanite through new sources including close connection with one of the Eight suppliers of choice connected directly to Tanzanite One the largest producer of tanzanite in the World.  My plans for this year are to return to Tanzania to strengthen my connection with local miners and look to the possibility of developing a cutting factory in Tanzania as the current law prohibits export of rough tanzanite over one gram or five carats, which will cut a maximum of two carats size tanzanites.

Read about Steve's recent trip to Tanzania in November of 2014!

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