Collectible Gemstones: Tantalising Tanzanite

Rough Tanzanite ring by Pippa Small


If asked to name their favourite coloured gemstone, most people are likely to answer ruby, sapphire, or emerald. It is understandable as these gems are the most celebrated. But are they actually the most desirable?

The beauty of a precious stone is not only in its rich colour and bright sparkle, but in its rarity and exclusivity. And one of the rarest stones is Tanzanite. I chose to talk about it as it is a relatively new December birthstone (it was officially added to the list of birthstones by the American Gem Trade Association in 2002).

Tantalising Tanzanite enchanted me with its magnificent colour: the deep purple-blue is charming like the boundless star-studded sky at night. Pleochroism (the ability to exhibit different colours when viewed from different angles) undoubtedly adds certain charm to it: one would notice violet, blue and purplish red (sometimes yellow) hues when observing it.

By the way, the renaming happened when the African ethno was at the peak of the first wave of popularity, and the Americans, who are crazy about novelties, enthusiastically started buying tanzanite jewellery.


Tiffany&Co Platinum necklace with diamonds and a Tanzanite of over 175 carats. It was created especially for the 175th anniversary of the company.

Nowadays tanzanite is popular not only in the USA, but in Europe as well. There is growing interest in Russia and other countries. I think people start to understand that the value of this gemstone is not only in its beauty and a unique colour-change effect, but also in its extreme rarity.

Tanzanites are only mined in the Arusha province of Tanzania, whose resources are almost exhausted causing prices to grow in geometric progression. Maybe it is sapphires that will one day be used as imitation of tanzanites? 

Photos are courtesy of Tiffany&Co and Pippa Small

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