1 May 2021

Tanzanite – precious gems from Tanzania

In 1967, it is told, that a Maasai tribesman stumbled upon a cluster of highly transparent, intense violet-to-blue crystals weathering out of the earth in Merelani, an area of northern Tanzania. He alerted a local fortune hunter named Manuel d’Souza, who quickly registered four mining claims. D’Souza hoped that he’d been shown a new sapphire deposit. Instead, the deposit contained one of the newest of the world’s gems.

Tanzanite’s mineralogical name is “blue zoisite.” It was formed around 585 million years ago during the mid- Ediacaran Period by massive plate tectonic activity and intense heat in the area that would later become Mount Kilimanjaro. The very first person to get the identification right was Ian McCloud, a Tanzanian government geologist based in Dodoma.  

Tiffany & Company recognized its potential as an international seller and made a deal to become its main distributor. Tiffany named the gem after the country it came from and promoted it with a big publicity campaign in 1968. Almost overnight, tanzanite was popular with leading jewellery designers and other gem professionals, as well as with customers who had an eye for beautiful and unusual gems.

The popularity of this transparent blue-to-violet gem was tied to its vivid colour, high clarity, and potential for large cut stones. Tanzanite is only found in a small area of Tanzania and so the supply is restricted and finite with mining of this gem expected to be exhausted by 2040. This ensures that Tanzanite gems will increase in value.

Tanzanite was designated as a birthstone for the month of December in 2002.

The mineral zoisite naturally occurs in a wide range of colours that include colourless, grey, yellow, brown, green, blue, and violet. The rarest and most expensive colour of Tanzanite is pink.

Gibb's Farm African Galleria Tanzanite

Tanzanite Boutique at Gibb’s Farm

Gibb’s Farm, in partnership with African Galleria, will be opening a Tanzanite Boutique on property, where guests may learn more about these gorgeous gems, choose from a large in-store collection or commission custom made pieces.

Read also: Zawadi Boutique