December’s Birthstones – Part Three: Tanzanite

Tanzanite was one of the most exciting gemstone discoveries in the 19th century. Due to its amazing velvety looking shade of rich blue or violet, Tiffany & Co. believed it would be an international sensation – and they were right!

Tanzanite is pleochroic, so as you move the stone you’ll see different colors.

Tanzanite is a variety of the mineral zoisite. Most tanzanite begins as brown zoisite that is heat treated to produce the famous colors this stone is known for. The resulting color is permanent.

The Merelani Hills of northern Tanzania is the only place on earth where tanzanite is mined comercially. Masai tribesman Ali Juuyawatu is credited with finding the first tanzanite crystal, in 1967.

Tanzanite is also the 24th wedding anniversary gift, according to the Gemological Institute of America.

Tanzanite is a 6 to 7 on the Mohs scale, and can crack if exposed to high heat or sudden temperature  changes. It is also very easy to abrade, so setting the stone in a ring is not recommended, especially if worn daily. Earrings or pendants are safer choices. This stone has to be a special-care gem!