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Tanzanite
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Tanzanite A Gemstone With a Beautiful Shade of Blue
Tanzanite is rich in color, elegant gemstone prized for its exquisite ultramarine blue-violet color think of the most vibrant intense lapis lazuli gemstones only transparent. The color has been described by the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) as a mesmerizing blend of rich purples and blues with a velvety deepness of color, unlike any other gem. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, thanks to the famous jewelry store Tiffany's, tanzanite became the darling of the gemstone world.
Blue Zoisite - What Tanzanite Is Mineralogically
Tanzanite is a member of the zoisite family which was first identified by gemologists around 1800. The tanzanite (blue zoisite) branch of the family was not identified until 1967. The pink, yellow, and green members of the zoisite family never became widely popular as a gemstone and were typically used for carvings and trinkets. Tanzanite (trichroic zoisite - blue / purple / salmon) is a very rare gemstone in that to date top quality tanzanite is found exclusively in the relatively small Merelani Hills area near Mount Kilimanjaro. Gem quality tsavorite and chromium-green diopside are also found in the area. This is not surprising since it seems that tanzanite and tsavorite form under very similar conditions but a different depths in the earth. There have been more recent discoveries of a few inky blue gem zoisite specimens found in the Tsavo region of Kenya, an area known for its exceptional quality tsavorite (green grossular garnet). Those recent discoveries have so far amounted to just a few gemstones.
How Tanzanite Got It's Name?
It is believed that Henry Platt, the grandson of Louis Comfort Tiffany said at the public unveiling of tanzanite by Tiffany's that tanzanite was "the most beautiful blue stone to be discovered in over 2000 years." It is also the only gemstone to be added to the Modern birthstone list since the list was first created in 1912. It joins turquoise and blue zircon as birthstones for those born in December.
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The History of Tanzanite - A Gemstone Whose Time Had Come
The history of the discovery of tanzanite is not simple. But one thing for sure, the fates or the alignment of the stars or destiny created a set of circumstances that ensured that tanzanite would be discovered and brought to the attention of the gemstone world hundreds or thousands of years after most gemstones used in jewelry had been discovered and identified.
Tanzanite Treatment - Tanzanite Is a Heat Treated Gemstone
In the beginning - Legend says that exposed brown or brownish yellow zoisite crystals in the Merelani area were heated by the periodic lightning-caused grass fires that swept through the arid uninhabited area. Some will have you believe the grass fires would not have been hot enough to heat the exposed zoisite crystals, but some grasses do burn at temperatures over 540 degrees Centigrade and that is sufficient enough to cause brown zoisite to color change to blue in only two or three minutes. Add to that that there were repeated fires and that part of the legend could very well be true. As stated, that area is arid and before 1967 was for all intent, uninhabited. It was occasionally visited by Masai herders passing through, but it seems they paid no attention to the beautiful blue stones. 1967 was the year the stars aligned or the fates stepped in or a series of coincidences just happened and blue zoisite was officially discovered.
Manuel de Sousa - First Man To Recognize Tanzanite Value
Most people will agree that Manuel de Sousa (1913 - 1969) was the very first to file a claim to mine blue zoisite. It is believed that he was the first to recognize the primary alluvial (loose, sitting on the surface) deposits of zoisite crystals at Merelani and the first to recognize the potential value. Mr. de Sousa was an immigrant from Goa, India. He supported his family as a tailor yet was a man who dreamed of treasure to be found and as such, was a part time prospector. The actual details of how he found the deposit will never be known as he apparently told slightly different versions of the story to different people. It is not unusual for a prospector to embellish the story a little every time it is retold so this is understandable. He was consistent in his story that he was lead to the area by men native to the area, men who had no interest in the stones and that he found transparent blue stones dancing in the morning sun when he arrived at the area to which they had led him. He was also consistent in his story that he thought at first that he had found huge blue sapphires. Having been a prospector for years, one of the first things he did was to test samples of his find for hardness and discovered they were too soft to be sapphire. Using his mineralogy book and experience as a prospector, he decided that olivine was the closest match. Olivine was a semi-precious gemstone that was profitable to mine. Consequently, he staked out four claims of 1,000 feet by 1700 feet and on he filed four mining claims for olivine with the Government Mines and Geology office on July 25, 1967* and he began mining in earnest. By April of 1968 the gemstone world had correctly identified the gemstones as blue zoisite (tanzanite) and Mr. de Sousa re-filed the same four claims but for zoisite instead of olivine.

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Word of Mr. de Sousa