Tanzanite Birthstone Jewellery – The Brilliant Blue Gem That’s Always a Unique Choice

Friday, 1 December 2023
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Tanzanite Ring

Tanzanite Birthstone Jewellery – The Brilliant Blue Gem That’s Always a Unique Choice

There are 3 gems associated with the December birthstone jewellery being Turquoise, Blue Topaz, and Tanzanite. This article focuses on Turquoise, but we have also written articles on Turquoise (CLICK HERE) and Blue Topaz (CLICK HERE) to reflect the different choices you have for your individual choice of December birthstone jewellery.

Most birthstone gems are long known, long worn favourites that almost everyone is very familiar with. That is not the case for those born in December, as one of the three birthstones assigned to the final month of the year – tanzanite birthstone jewellery – is a very modern, and stunningly beautiful – choice that not only makes for a beautiful December birthstone ring but also for a gorgeous wear anywhere, anytime gem choice.

What is Tanzanite?

The term “tanzanite” is a trade name that was first applied by Tiffany and Company to gem-quality samples of the blue mineral zoisite. Tiffany had the option of marketing the product under the mineralogical term “blue zoisite,” but they decided against it because they believed “tanzanite” would pique consumer interest.

Tanzanite Earrings   “Tanzanite” was chosen since northern Tanzania is home to the only known commercially significant tanzanite deposit in the world. The gem’s restricted geographic origin is reflected in the name. The Merelani Hills, near the foot of the fabled Mount Kilimanjaro and the city of Arusha, include all of the mines in an area of around eight square miles where the gem is exclusively mined.

The majority of the most well-known gemstones in the world have been recognised and used for hundreds of years, but tanzanite wasn’t found in significant quantities until the 1960s, and it then took another decade for it to become popular for use in commercially sold jewellery. However, it’s caught on fast, and has now overtaken all but sapphire to rank as the second-most popular blue gem in the world.

In the past century, only a very tiny number of ‘new’ gems of any colour have been found and brought to widespread market acclaim. This quick growth in popularity was largely made possible by Tiffany’s marketing and the stunning blue colour of tanzanite. In 2002, Tanzanite was chosen as the modern birthstone for the month of December as a result of its rising popularity and today tanzanite birthstone jewellery has become the choice for modern fashionistas with a desire for blue and birthstone jewellery fans alike.

As for its discovery, In 1967, a prospector by the name of Manuel D’Souza who was looking for sapphires in north-eastern Tanzania made the discovery of tanzanite. D’Souza, who was originally from India, had been scouring the Tanzanian wilderness for gemstones after moving there several years earlier.

Eventually, some locals brought him to a location near Mount Kilimanjaro in the Merelani Hills, around 90 kilometres from his hometown of Arusha. He discovered several blue stones there that he initially mistook for sapphires.

Legend has it that a lightning bolt that lit the nearby grasses on fire was what first caused the Maasai herders to find the stone. The blue stones were scattered over the ground when they came back to the land with their livestock. D’Souza filed a claim with the government and started mining after quickly realising that the blue stones he had discovered were not sapphire but something completely new.

What Gives Tanzanite Its Beautiful Blues?

Tanzanite PendantEven if they are not making use of it for a December birthstone ring an increasing number of gem lovers are dazzled by the brilliant blues found in tanzanite gemstones. But just what causes that beautiful range of blue hues, that can range from a lighter, almost sky-blue shade to a deeper, rich blue with almost violet tones?

The colour intensity of tanzanite is caused by trace amounts of vanadium found inside the zoisite mineral structure. When vanadium-containing zoisite is heated to 600 degrees Celsius for around half an hour, the oxidation state of vanadium is changed, which improves or develops the blue colour. The heat treatment applied to tanzanite is less severe than that applied to gems like sapphires and rubies.

These jewels may be stored at temperatures between 1000 and 1800 degrees Celsius for days or weeks at a time. Today, the majority of tanzanite stones on the market have blue hues that have been added or enhanced artificially.

A small amount of commercially available tanzanite contains a blue tint that develops naturally in geological heat without any human involvement, but this tends to both be very expensive and a lighter blue in colour that is not quite as stunningly eye-catching as heat treated tanzanite birthstone jewellery.

Tanzanite’s Unique Colour Qualities Explained

Tanzanite Ring GoldOne of the only three trichroic gemstones known to man include tanzanite, which means it has the capacity to exhibit three colours simultaneously. Depending on which axis you are viewing the stone from, the gemstone will appear to be a different colour due to the way that light vibrates as it travels through it.

Shades of blue, violet, and red are the three colours that can be seen in tanzanite’s. When trichroism is present, the cutting process is more difficult than it would be for gems without this unique feature. The manner the stone was cut will have a significant impact on the colour of the finished product.

Because brilliant blue is the most desirable colour for tanzanite, cutters will attempt to shape the gemstone in a way that highlights its blue tones. However, usually an individual gem, used for example in a December birthstone ring, will either be blue dominant or violet dominant. As however your jewellery will look slightly different each time the light hits it you can be sure that you will be getting a gemstone that is completely unique!

How Durable is Tanzanite Birthstone Jewellery?

If you are going to purchase a December birthstone ring, no doubt one of the things you’ll want to know is how durable it is, so, at the very least, you can know when it’s safest to wear it.

The Mohs Hardness Scale is an industry measure that ranks the hardness of all known gemstones. On the Mohs Hardness Scale, tanzanite has a hardness of approximately 6.5. This is relatively low when compared to some gemstones, but if it is set into a December birthstone ring with the proper expertise and care it won’t be damaged by normal wear.

However, it can be scratched or chipped if something hits it hard, so you may want to remove your tanzanite birthstone jewellery before you head to the gym or undertake heavy physical work.

Tanzanite Meanings and Associations

Tanzanite NecklaceBecause tanzanite itself isn’t much over fifty years old, there are no ancient legends associated with it, as is often the case for other birthstones. However, it comes from a place – Mount Kilimanjaro – that is mentioned as special and sacred throughout history, so most people assume that although it has only been available commercially since the late twentieth century it has been mined and worn locally long before that and may even be the crystals Ptolemy of Alexandria mentioned in 150 BC when writing about ‘the great snow mountain’.

Those who practise crystal healing do assign quite a lot of importance to tanzanite though. They feel that it has both calming and relaxation properties when worn, and thanks to its unique qualities of adaptation also helps to foster greater creativity. While we are not sure about all of that, we do know that tanzanite birthstone jewellery is uniquely beautiful and stunning to wear, whether you are a December baby or not!

Author Bio

Jill Hansen runs Anastasia’s Of Broome and is a highly recognised expert in both the fields of South Sea Pearls and Diamonds. Jill trained in seeding pearls in the Cook Islands by Japanese Pearl Technicians, and established a wholesale pearl business selling pearls all over the world. She pioneered the combination of pearls and diamonds to create Lust™ Pearls, a unique fusion of these two beautiful gemstones. Jill holds the prestigious recognition of being an Antwerp Diamond Broker for selecting and sourcing Diamonds direct from the diamond capital of the world, Antwerp. She is a diamond expert and is happy to use and impart her knowledge to help customers make informed decisions.

Not sure what your birthstone is check out our article on all monthly gemstones here.



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