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Introducing Tanzanite

Introducing Tanzanite

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Introducing Tanzanite

Unlike a lot of other gemstones, Tanzanite is actually a pretty new find.  It was first found in 1967 in Tanzania by Masai tribesman Ali Juuyawatu.  One of the biggest reasons this gem became so popular was simply because of Tiffany and Company.  In 1968 they had a huge publicity campaign about Tanzanite and it literally became a sensation overnight.

While Ali Juuyawatu was the first person to find this gem, after it was nationalized by the Tanzania government, over 2 million carats were mined and found by people that lived in, near or around Tanzania.


Because  Tanzanite is a pleochroic gem, it can be 3 different colors depending on which way you point the stone. Generally, they are either purplish, burgundy or violet-blue in color.

Famous Gems

Because Tanzanite is such a new gem, there aren't many historical documentations of  being worn by royalty.  However, there are three famous Tanzantine gems that are referenced.

123-Carat Gem:  This isn't actually 123 carats - it's only 122.70!  But, close enough!  Currently, it resides in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

Petersen Tanzanite Brooch:  This gem also resides in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.  It was designed as a brooch but can also be worn as earrings. Each of the two Tanzanite stones weigh 30 carats each.

The Schneider Tanzanite Ring:  This is a ring that was designed by Mark Schneider. It's a platinum ring, surrounded by diamonds, with the tanzanite gem right in the middle of the ring.  This one is also in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, however, there are designers out there that are willing to recreate the ring.

The Tanzanite Foundation Grading System

Like most other colored gems out there, there is no specific universally accepted grading system.  Because of this and because of the popularity of tanzanite The Tanzanite Foundation, which is a subsidiary of Tanzanite One - one of the biggest commercial players in the Tanzanite market, created their own grading system.

That being said, color, clarity, cut and carats still play a big part in how this gem is valued.

Stones that are deeper in saturation are the rarest gems and colors which make them the most valuable.  While  more pale hues are more commonly found which makes them worth less.

Clarity, in this case, will either decrease or increase value.  Eye visible inclusions will decrease the value automatically because it essentially ruins the pure color of the gem.

In terms of cut, tanzanite is available in many different shapes, but the cushion and oval cuts seem to be the most popular shapes.

Lastly, gems that are considered "valuable" must weigh over 5 carats to be considered. 


While December already has a few birthstones - Zircon, Turquoise and Blue Topaz, in 2002 the American Gem Trade Association decided that this gem should also be added to the birthstone list for December.

This was the first time they changed or added the December birthstone since 1912.  Needless to say, while the tanzanite doesn't have a ton of rich history, it must be a popular and is a beautiful gem if the American Gem Trade Association is willing to change a birthstone gem after 106 years of it being the same gem.

If you are interested in selling your used jewelry or have questions, visit Ralph Mueller & Associates or call 480.949.9229