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Tanzanite 101: The Guide to Buying Tanzanite

Throughout the the years we have had many questions about Tanzanite and in this post we wanted to put down some of the most popular questions and answer them for all our customers. After reading this post, you should have a better idea of what Tanzanite is, where it comes from and why it's so rare. This page will help you find out about the properties of Tanzanite, the meanings, the history and even some of the healing properties. Enjoy!

  • Where is Tanzanite Found: Tanzanite comes from Tanzania
  • What is Tanzanite Worth: Varies depending on color and size
  • Physical Makeup: (Ca2Al3(SiO4)(Si2O7)O(OH)) + (Cr,Sr)
  • Type of Stone: Zoisite
  • Hardness: 6 to 6.5
  • Colors: Brownish-red, Blue, Purple, Violet, Green, Pink, Yellow
  • Cleavage: Perfect {010}, imperfect {100}
  • Refraction: 1.69–1.70
  • Specific Gravity: 3.10–3.38
  • Birthstone Month: Sometimes used as a December birthstone

Top 10 Reasons to Purchase Tanzanite

Supplies of Tanzanite could become scarce as Tanzanite One the largest producer on cut tanzanite develops the Chinese market . Tanzanite One has signed an agreement with Chow Tai Seng to sell cut-to-order stones through the retailer’s 2,200 jewellery stores in People's Republic. If the Chinese people take a liking to this popular gem supplies will plummet and prices will soar.

1) Tanzanites blue violet color is second only to sapphire in desirability with a price that is a fraction of sapphires price. The colors is comes in are blue, violet, purple and other lss valuable colors.

2) Large gem are available at a price per carat that is no higher than smaller gems. Currently a gem quality 2 carat tanzanite sells for the same price per carat as a twenty carat tanzanite. This will change as the market for tanzanite increases. If you look at a gem like sapphire and diamond large gems can be 20 times the price per carat of their smaller counterparts.

3) Tanzanite is becoming accepted as the birthstone for December along with blue zircon.

4) Tanzanites blue violet color is unlike any other gemstone.

5) Tanzanite displays a color change when viewed in incandescent lighting that is more violet and changes to blue in daylight.

6) This color changing character is most associated with Junes birthstone Alexandrite. Rare examples of tanzanite display a color change that is close to 100% from amethyst purple to sapphire blue.

7) The average tanzanite has much higher clarity than many other popular gems including sapphire, emerald, ruby, alexandrite, Garnet, Peridot, Quartz, Amethyst, Citrine, Ametrine, Spinel, Tourmaline and Zircon.

8) Investment-Tanzanite will be mined out in 15 to 25 years. Tanzanite One gives the longest estimate of 30 years of tanzanite production. I view this as an overstatement as Tanzanite One or Richland Resources is publicly traded and investors don't want to invest in a company whose product has a short life.

9) The color of tanzanite mimics two of the most popular gems, sapphire and amethyst. The mix of the two colors is often said to look like the eyes of the most beautiful actress Elizabeth Taylor.

10) We have the best of it!

What is Tanzanite?

 

What is Tanzanite?

Tanzanite is the violet to blue (blue or purple mainly) form of the mineral zoisite. It is a calcium alumina hydroxy silicate. Discovered in 1967 in Tanzania by local herders and brought to market by a tailor and part time prospector Manuel de Sousa. Tiffany and company gave the name "tanzanite" to this gem. The mining area is small, possibly less than 6 square kilometers. Located less than a half hour drive from Kilomanjaro International Airport which serves Arusha and the Seranghetti game preserves. Estimates of the lifespan of the mines are from 10 to 25 years and it is unlikely this mineral will be discovered elsewhere. Tanzanites is second only to sapphire in popularity among all colored gems. The mix of violet and blue is often labeled as "mesmerizing" by owners of the gem. Like the rare gem alexandrite, tanzanite also has the ability to color change from more blue in daylight to more violet in incandescent light. Tanzanite is safely used in fine jewelry including pendants, earrings and with some caution rings and bracelets.

Tanzanite Vs Diamond

It's been said that Tanzanite is like Diamond, but Tanzanite is at least 1000x more valuable and more rare than Diamond. Diamonds have been minded in large quantities. You can't say that about Tanzanite. If you compare it to Ruby, Sapphire or Emerald...well you can't, because those have been minded for 1,000s of years...Tanzanite only about 25 years!

These are the biggest reasons why this stone is very rare compared to others and why it's a perfect time to purchase Tanzanite now.

One common question we receive is based on the color of Tanzanite. You will see many blue and purple tanzanite out there. People want to know which is worth more, the blue Tanzanite or purple Tanzanite. Each are valuable, but really depends on the depth of color...just watch out for green! More in the video below.

Tanzanite is far more rare than Diamond and has just recently been mined. Because the price of Diamonds are controlled, you will normally pay much more for a Diamond then a Tanzanite, even though the rarity is not there. You will see the big differences in color as well. For the hardness, a Diamond will be harder than Tanzanite. This doesn't mean it is too soft to wear in jewelry such as a ring, just that it doesn't have the hardness that Diamond has.

Tanzanite Vs Sapphire

Tanzanite and Sapphire has similiar colors and are sometimes confused with each other. When Tanzanite was first released, due to the cheaper pricing, it was used as a cheap alternative to Sapphire. This was before the popularity grew for this gemstone and the price did as well. One big difference between Sapphire and Tanzanite is that Sapphire is naturally blue. Tanzanite is heat treated to be the color it is (in 99% of cases). It normally comes out of the ground a brownish-red color. Another difference between the two stones is that Sapphire is harder than Tanzanite. While both can be worn in pendants, earrings and rings, Sapphire is naturally harder than Tanzanite.

 

How much is Tanzanite Worth?

The value of tanzanite is based on the 4 c's just like a diamond. Deeper colors have more value. Most tanzanites are quite clean and visible inclusions affect the value dramatically. Price per carat jumps at 1.00 carat, 2.00 carat and 3.00 carat. Price per carat peaks at 3.00 carat and do not change dramatically up to 20 carat. The quality of cut and polish can affect prices by up 50%. In 2016 prices for finer tanzanites range from $200 per carat to $800 per carat.

What color is Tanzanite?

Tanzanite is available in blue, purple or violet-blue. The most sought after color are intense blues. Any colors outside this range are less valuable and not as rare and the deep colored purple and blue Tanzanite gemstones. Unheated Tanzanite is brown in color and doesn't get it's blue and purple colors until it is heat treated. Buyers often confuse Tanzanite with Sapphire or Amethyst due to the color.

Heating Tanzanite
cutting tanzanite

TANZANITE IN THE RAW / ROUGH

During Steve Moriarty's last trip to Tanzania (learn more here) in November of 2014, he purchased many pieces of rough Tanzanite, which is sometimes called 'raw' Tanzanite. This is when Tanzanite has not yet been cut yet and has just been found in the mines. Because there is a limit to how much and how big of a rough Tanzanite gemstone you can bring back from Tanzania, much of the rough Steve Moriarty cut there in Tanzania. Some of the dealers he met allowed him to use their cutting machines in their shop to cut and polish the raw stones allowing him to bring back more to the United States than he would be able to in their previous form. It's also cheaper to buy these stones in the rough than cut. This is because you then have to pay for the labor to cut them. Because Steve Moriarty is a gemcutter, this not only allows us to see you Tanzanite at a cheaper price, but it also allows him to cut it the way he wants, which turns out to 99% of the time be a better stone as well.

Why Don't You See More Rough or Raw Stones?

Most of the Tanzanite you see in shops has been delivered to those shops already cut and polished. Here at Tanzanite Jewelry Designs, we not only have the finished gemstones, but also a ton of raw gemstones because Steve Moriarty enjoys cutting them in our retail store in Crown Point, IN. If you are ever interested in seeing Tanzanite in the raw form, please stop by our shop and Steve would love to show you what your Tanzanite looks like before it's all cut and polished and ready to be worn.

How to Grade Tanzanite

In this video, Steve Moriarty talks about how to grade Tanzanite gemstones. Many people think there is a just an A, AA, AAA grading system with Tanzanite, but that is not really enough. Steve takes the extra steps when grading Tanzanite to make sure you are getting the best stone and the proper grade.

Learn About Many Interesting Things About Tanzanite and Tanzania!

  • See what it looks like buying Tanzanite rough from a dealer in Tanzania
  • See what the dealer's home and or business looks like you have to travel to
  • See the tools that are used to find imperfections and the best rough Tanzanite
  • See what rough Tanzanite look like...in all the colors, not just blue and purple
  • See what it looks like to buy rough from the miners in the Tanzanite mining towns (Can be intimidating!)
  • What happens when too much attention is made and safety is a big concern
  • How you look for quality stones when the power is out (frequent problem in Tanzania!)
  • Learn about Arusha
  • How to export Tanzanite from Tanzania into the USA

HOW TO BUY TANZANITE IN ARUSHA, TANZANIA

During Steve Moriarty's recent trip in November of 2014 to Tanzania in search of Tanzanite, we decided to record much of what went on when we were there. The video below will help show you just what is all involved in the whole process and finding and buying Tanzanite throughout Tanzania including Arusha. It's not as easy as one would think. You can just stop off at the neighborhood Tanzanite Shop and pick up some loose Tanzanite. LOL. The video is about 7 minutes long, but really gives you an in-depth look at the entire interesting process.

Where are the Tanzanite Mines?

During Steve's recent trip to Tanzania, Africa in search of Tanzanite, they traveled into the mines looking for Tanzanite much of the time. In the video below you are going to see what's it like to travel 1,200ft down into a small hole in the ground, known as the Tanzanite mine.

Before going in, Steve, Matt and Sune will break down what to expect when you get to the mines, you can see the difficulty of just getting to the mines and why it's something you might not want to do yourself. Steve has been traveling to Tanzania for over 12 years and has made many contacts with dealers and guides there, which is why he is so comfortable during the whole situation. It could be definitely a stressful situation for anyone coming to Tanzania for the first time, traveling to a mine for the first time and especially for those that may be afraid of being in confined places!

What is Lavender Pink Tanzanite?

Now unlike a lot of sites out there, we are not trying to pass off a poor-colored Tanzanite and call it Lavender Pink. This came out of the mine this way and was personally cut by Steve. The color of this Tanzanite is spectacular and is unlike anything he has ever seen. He does say the color reminds him of kunzite, which you can learn more about here.

How Rare is Lavender Pink?

As I mentioned before, Steve has never seen this color before. And with the shortage of Tanzanite (read about that here), this makes this color even more rare. This is why the high price for this stone. You will probably never see another one like it and no one will ever be able to purchase it...so it is truely unique. This stone specifically is over 2 carats and in a pear shape. The cost is $3,100.

Availability

We are working with friends in Tanzania to look for more of this gemstone. We have connections with some of the best local dealers in and around Arusha, Tanzanite. They will be informing us if any more Tanzanite of this color is found. If so, we will be the first to snap it up, but I wouldn't hold your breath for it. You could be waiting a long time.

Other Rare Colors?

Like the rare colors of Tanzanite. We have quite a few other colors of Tanzanite including Yellow, Orange/Peach and Green. You can see the complete collection here.

How to Heat Tanzanite

In the video here Steve Moriarty is going to show you how to enhance natural Tanzanite with heat. Most people don't know what the real color of Tanzanite looks like before the heating process. It's amazing that heat can change a stone this much, but it's really a common process in the jewelry industry.

How Rare is Tanzanite?

How rare is tanzanite? Relative to other gems tanzanite has a high rarity level. The supply is sufficient to satisfy current demand but when we consider the short time it has been available, about 45 years, the amount sold in the world is small compared to most gems which have been mines for hundreds and even thousands of years. Projections of the future of mining production is at most 25 years so relative rarity over time is extreme. The rarity of the top investment qualities including the vivid and exceptional colors is as little as 1% of production and will be of great value when mining ceases.

Tanzanite Past & Future

About 25 years ago Tanzanite was very hard to get and very rare. And in the next 25 years Tanzanite will once again not be mined and it may go out of existance. It's only been mined since 1991 and only in Tanzania...no where else in the world it is available.

Is Blue or Purple Tanzanite more valuable?

One common question we receive is based on the color of Tanzanite. You will see many blue and purple tanzanite out there. People want to know which is worth more, the blue Tanzanite or purple Tanzanite. Each are valuable, but really depends on the depth of color...just watch out for green! More in the video below.

Is Tanzanite considered a precious stone?

 
 

What is the Hardness & Durability of Tanzanite?

What is the hardness and durability of tanzanite? Tanzanite is 6.5 to 7 in hardness.  It's general durability is comparable to amethyst, citrine, garnet and tourmaline.  As an everyday ring you can expect scratches to occur on the crown of your gem.  In 5 years with daily wear you may require re-polishing of the table of the gem which can generally be done in the mounting.  Some crown facet scratching may only be accessible by removing the tanzanite from the mounting.  Pendants and earrings are not at risk of scratching. The durability of your gem can be compromised by cleaning tools used by your local jeweler.  Ultrasonic cleaners can be very hot and heat shock causing cracking is possible. Cooling down the cleaning solution or slowly warming the gem may help.  Although we have not experienced damage from ultrasonic use some say ultrasonic action can cause damage, so we recommend using ultrasonic cleaners only on smaller less valuable gems.  Never, never, never use steam cleaners on tanzanite, and many other colored gems. When designing a ring consider how the gem is set for future cleaning and repair.  Prong set with a larger opening beneath the gem will make it easier to remove the stone from the mounting and also allow you to get a brush to the back of the gem for cleaning.

WHAT IS PURPLE TANZANITE?

Tanzanite can be totally purple in incandescent lighting like the picture above with none of the blue secondary color. We call this ultraviolet tanzanite. All of this purple material that I have seen does a dramatic color change to blue in daylight with some secondary purple. These have a true color change and are quite rare and valued by collectors. So to my knowledge there is no purple tanzanite if you view them in daylight, but some can be totally purple if viewed in incandescent lighting only.

LAB CREATED, SYNETHTIC TANZANITE

One of the most common questions we receive is if our Tanzanite is simulated, lab created or synthetic. They have different meanings, but when people bring those words up describing Tanzanite, it's just not natural Tanzanite. The most common tanzanite simulant and maybe the only one that appears close to the color of tanzanite is synthetic sapphire. Synthetic means it is the same chemical makeup as the real thing just created in the lab. There is no synthetic tanzanite only imitation which is the synthetic sapphire.

WHAT IS D BLOCK TANZANITE

"D" block is the original area that produced some of the finest and largest quantity of tanzanite over the years.  There are 4 blocks in Merilani split to A, B, C, &D.  All produce fine tanzanite but none have as high of percentage of fine material as "D" block and some of the material from the other blocks show an undesirable green secondary color which cannot be burned out of the gem.

Unfortunately today many dealers use the term "D" block to make you think the gem is of finer quality. Unless you buy the gem from the mine, as we do, there is no way to be sure it is from "D" block.  Keep in mind that all material from "D" block is not always of superior quality and the term is often used to deceive. D block produces all qualities of material from the lightest colors to top gem material. In general what I have seen of D block material, the third color yellow is purer with less undesirable green.

WHAT IS TANZANITE MADE OF?

Tanzanite is the blue to violet form of zoisite. Other colors are known. Chemical composition is Ca2Al3(SiO4)3(OH) a calcium aluminum silicate.  Tanzanite is a mineral species belonging to the epidote group. Tanzanite crystallizes in the orthorhombic system.  Vanadium is the cause of the color in blue to violet stones.

IS TANZANITE HARD?

Tanzanite is 6.5- 7 on the mohs scale which runs from 1-10.  It has similar durability to amethyst, tourmaline and garnets.  Tanzanite can be worn in all types of jewelry. Rings should be worn with some caution.  Hardness deals with scratching the surface and scratches can be removed with minor lose to the gem.

IS BLUE OR PURPLE TANZANITE MORE VALUABLE?

In general both are similarly priced as it is the depth of color and quality of the color that matters.  Originally the blue was considered more valuable because early sellers were comparing it to sapphire.  Today the deep blue violet mixed color is what is in demand which is fortunate as straight blue tanzanite is more rare.  Pure violet with very little blue is even more rare as are pinks, greens and yellows.

IS TANZANITE A PRECIOUS STONE?

The term precious stems from a time when only the most expensive gems were called precious. Diamond, ruby, sapphire, emerald and pearl.  All the other gems were of low value so therefore semi-precious.  Most gem dealers have dropped the term for many stones as the value of many colored gems has skyrocketed.  A 10 carat tanzanite at $8000 does not seem to fall into the category of semi-precious.

Can Tazanite be Lab Created?

There are no tanzanite synthetics.  A synthetic tanzanite would hve the same chemical make-up of tanzanite a silicate of calcium and aluminum. There are many imitations including synthetic forsterite and synthetic sapphire.

Can Tanzanite Fade?

Tanzanite does have a color shift and rarely a color change.  A color shift happens when you change the type of lighting and you get an addition of another color which in tanzanite is from blue violet in incandescent light to violet blue in daylight with the second color being the dominant color.  Stone that have more violet will shift the strongest.  Color change does rarely happen in tanzanite and the change is from violet in incandescent to blue in daylight.

Can Tanzanite Lose it's Color?

Tanzanite will not lose it color under normal circumstances.  I have turned tanzanite white by heating accidentally to 1500 degrees fahrenheit.

Can Tanzanite Scratch?

Tanzanite can scratch as the hardness is 6.5-7 on the moh's scale and much of our environment is made up of quartz and quartz is 7 hardness and can scratch tanzanite. The Moh's scale simple states that a higher number can scratch a lower number.  Over time rings will show scratches but can be polished with minimal weight loss.  Cost of repolishing can be from $50 to $300.  Often the table is all that needs polishing and can be done in the ring.  Full crown recuts require removal of the stone and can hit the higher end price.  

Can Tanzanite Crack?

It is difficult to crack a tanzanite.  I have only seen cracks caused by steam.  You can chip a tanzanite the same as you can chip a sapphire but it is not common.  Tanzanite has one direction of perfect cleavage but I have yet to see a cut stone that has cleaved.

Can Tanzanite Take Heat?

Tanzanite can take heating up to 1400 F as long as it is gradual increase.  We heat to gradually to1050 F to alter color.  Sudden heat shock as in the use of steam cleaners uses by jewelers will cause irreparable damage to tanzanite.  Don't take the turkey out of the oven with your tanzanite on. 

Why is Most Tanzanite Blue or Purple?

Tanzanite is mostly blue to purple because in this location in Tanzania the coloring mineral available upon formation was vanadium.

What is Tanzanite only Found in Tanzania?

Tanzanite has only been found in this one location in Tanzania.  Getting the right chemicals together particularly Calcium and Aluminum with the right temperature and pressure is apparently a difficult circumstance.  It may possibly exist elsewhere waiting to be exposed by nature or other mining activities.

Who Discovered Tanzanite? Who Named It?

President Magufuli honours Jumanne Ngoma discoverer of Tanzanite Here is a link to an article about the discoverer of tanzanite in 1967. Living in poverty he was awarded $44000 in a ceremony to honor his discovery. 

HEALING PROPERTIES & SPIRITUAL MEANING

Many customers ask about the healing properties of this gemstone. We have put together a list of the healing properties known for Tanzanite in case you were looking for that information.

  • Zodiac Sign: Aries, Pisces
  • Emotional Influence: Compassion
  • Diseases Help Treated: Eye and Throat
  • Psychological: Calming & Soothing
  • Effects on Physical Body: Immune System
Data Value
Name Tanzanite
Type of Stone Zoisite
Color Mainly Blue or Purple. Can be Brown, Pink, Green.
Mohs scale 6-7
Heat Sensitive Yes
Formula Ca2Al3(SiO4)3(OH)
Cleavage Perfect
Luster Vitreous
Stone Enhancements Most Heat Treated
Birthstone/Birth Month Can be December

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