What is the mineral tanzanite used for?

Tanzanite: the rarest gemstone from Africa

Interesting facts about one of the rarest and most popular gemstones in the world.

Tanzanite is one of the rarest gemstones in the world. What makes it so sought after is the fact that this stone is a thousand times rarer than diamonds, and reports suggest that global supplies could be worn out in as little as 10-15 years. To find out more about this mysterious stone, we asked the leading expert and jeweler Shimansky where this valuable gemstone actually comes from and what buyers should pay attention to when choosing the right stone.

The history of tanzanite
More than 550 million years ago, at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Mother Nature produced tanzanite. However, it was only discovered in 1967 by Manuel d’Souza and a Maasai named Ali Juuyawatu in their search for sapphires (clear evidence of its rarity). To this day, this region in Tanzania is the only source of this precious stone in the whole world.

What makes tanzanite so special?
Tanzanite is three-colored in a unique way. In its raw form, the gem emits three different colors: blue, violet and burgundy red. Once the gemstone has been cut and polished, the color spectrum of the tanzanite ranges from a radiant violet to a vivid blue to a deep indigo blue.

What do you have to look out for when buying tanzanites?
Similar to the way the International Gemological Institute of America rates diamonds, the international rating system for tanzanite also uses the four C’s: color, clarity, cut and carat weight. The higher the combination of these properties of a tanzanite, the rarer and more valuable the jewel.

  • Color: Intensity and saturation of the color from blue to violet
    The color options range from extraordinary to pale. The letters “B” and “V” indicate whether blue or purple tones are more pronounced. The darker the color, the more valuable the gemstone is.
  • Clarity: natural imperfections and inclusions of other minerals in the gemstone
    Tanzanites range from crystal clear (eye clean) to many inclusions (heavily included). The latter means that the appearance is darker and does not have the clear, transparent appearance. The fewer inclusions a tanzanite has, the more valuable it is.
  • Cut: proportions and brilliance
    An excellent cut enables the facets of the stone to reflect the light in order to shine with maximum brilliance. The more precise the cut, the more valuable the tanzanite.
  • Carat is the unit in which the weight of gemstones is measured. One carat = one fifth of a gram
    Two apparently identical tanzanite stones can have different numbers of carats if they differ in depth.

Tanzanite in South Africa and the Ayanda ™ collection from Shimansky
In South Africa, the tanzanite is a popular jewel for jewelry and is one of the five best-selling gemstones in the country. Right at the front is the much-acclaimed jeweler Shimansky from South Africa. The designer and jewelry dealer has the gorgeous Ayanda, the Queen of Tanzanite Collection launched. This exclusive series by Shimansky consists of high quality and handcrafted pieces of jewelery from beautifully designed rings, earrings, pendants, bracelets and chains that have been adorned with tanzanites and diamonds. All Shimansky Tanzanites are of course certified according to the Tanzanite International Grading Standard. This testifies that every single one of Shimanky's creations with tanzanites is of the highest quality.

Fun facts about tanzanite

  • The only source in the world is a 5 kilometer long strip near Mount Kilimanjaro in northern Tanzania. Therefore, tanzanites are 1000 times rarer than diamonds.
  • It is the official birthstone for the month of December.
  • Properties such as luck and prosperity are ascribed to tanzanite and are associated with new life and new beginnings.
  • Due to its limited supply, the tanzanite is increasingly recognized as an heirloom.
  • For the Maasai tribe in Tanzania, the color blue is a sacred and spiritual color. Since it also stands for new life, it has now become common for Maasai women to receive a tanzanite when giving birth to a child in order to wish the child health, a positive life and prosperity. Men of the tribe give each newborn child such a gem as a good luck charm.
  • Tanzanite is said to have many mystical and healing powers. Allegedly it lifts the mood and opens the heart.
  • The largest tanzanite is a single crystal with 16,839 carats and weighs over 3 kg. It is named after Mawenzi, the second highest mountain after Kilimanjaro.

translated by Alexandra Seiler

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Find out more about what to look for when buying diamonds and tanzanites in South Africa.

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