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Where Does Tanzanite Come From?

by Steve Moriarty April 02, 2018

With many gemstones, our customers love to hear where they actually come from. Steve Moriarty travels the world looking for gemstones, and gives a great story about where each of them originated. One is Tanzanite. This stone comes from Tanzania, where Steve has traveled to a 1/2 dozen times over the years. In the video below, Steve goes into detail about the mines and where the best blue and purple Tanzanite can be found.


Hi, I'm Steve Moriarty from We're located
right here in Indiana, just south of Lake Michigan near Chicago. And I'm
going to take you on a little trip to the Tanzanite mines in Tanzania.

My flight starts at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, and I fly KLM to
Amsterdam, about an eight-hour flight. And from Amsterdam a nine-hour
flight to Tanzania. Here's Tanzania. Here's Mt. Kilimanjaro and Nairobi
and Kenya. And my goal is Arusha right here. Arusha is known as the
gateway to the Serengeti Plains. The Serengeti is where all the animal
shows you see on TV take place, all the major migrations. And over in here
is the Serengeti Plains.

This area right here is known as Ngorongoro. It's an ancient volcano.
This crater is somewhere either 15 or 25 miles across. All the animals
that are in here stay here. They don't migrate. So you can go to
Ngorongoro crater anytime of year and see all the big five animals. Nearby
is Lake Manyara, again, a very popular place for flamingos. There's
literally millions of flamingos that are in this lake.

Back to Arusha. This is where I stay, Arusha. It is the major marketing
for tanzanite. And this last trip I didn't expect to go anywhere but
Arusha. But I got to know a miner who actually owns one of the mines in
Marelani. So when you fly into Kilimanjaro Airport, which is right here,
it's about an hour and a half trip into Arusha where I stay.

Or you can come out of the airport, which is right here, and this road
right here if you take it south and follow it all the way to its end, it
ends up right here. And this is the tanzanite mining area. It extends
across here. Well, it's actually more like this. They say its four square
kilometers, but I estimated more like six or eight square kilometers.
There are four blocks.

At this end is D block. This is where tanzanite was originally discovered.
C block is here, and C block is the major mechanized portion of the mine.
It's owned by Richfield, which is a publicly traded company. Tanzanite one.
All these buildings are theirs. And this is C block. B block and A block
are down at this end. And these are being actively mined right now.

My friend is at D block. D block is the most famous portion of the mining.
Not only was it the original, it produced many of the finest stones. So
when you come in here and get through security, you follow this road down
to his mine which is down in this area. I can't quite identify exactly
which one it is. But this is in the middle of D block.

So we went down in his mine, which was very interesting, down about 1200
feet. From there we drove to where all the miners live, and that's here in
Marelani. Marelani grew up primarily because of the mining. All the miners
live here, and it proved to be a real interesting place to buy. Because
the miners are partly paid in gems, and they have to sell them themselves.
So you're actually dealing with the individual laborers, and they're
selling their stones.

So we dealt in a car, because we were not really supposed to be here. So
we spent the day in the car, and people passed those gems through the
window. And I bought some very nice stones here. The only problem with
buying in Marelani is the security risk. You're the only white guy in
town. They know why you're there. You've got cash with you. You're giving
out cash. So there is always that criminal element that could cause you

So our next trip will be spent more buying at the mines and in Arusha, but
it was really a great trip. So we deal with the miners. We cut our own
stones. Come visit us at, or in Crown Point,
Indiana. Our store name is Moriarty's Gem Art. Thank you.

Steve Moriarty
Steve Moriarty

Steve Moriarty has been in the jewelry industry for over 30 years. Steve is not only a jeweler, but a gem cutter and designer. He has traveled the world in search of gemstone rough and has owned a retail jewelry store for 20 years located in Crown Point, Indiana.

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