The Masai and the Blue Stone

Tanzanite is related to another stone related to the Maasai: Anyolite (or Rubinzoisite)  an opaque green stone that contains large, mostly opaque rubies; it is named after the green color in the Maasai language.

The new gem was initially known as blue zoisite, but Tiffany & Company renamed it Tanzanite after the sole nation where it is found when they unveiled it to the world in 1969. They reportedly changed it because they were concerned that mispronunciation of its unusual name as "blue suicide" might hinder sales of their stone.

Ali Juuyawatu, a Masai tribesman from northern Tanzania, was wandering around the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in 1967 when he came across a stone. History doesn't say if he stubbed his toe on the rock or if its unique hue grabbed his notice. We do know that on that day, this Masai warrior made history by discovering Tanzanite! This unique member of the zoisite group of minerals has only ever been discovered in one location on the planet: a five-square-mile mountaintop near Arusha, Tanzania. In reality, Kilimanjaro International Airport is about 10 miles north of the location of this rare gem's discovery.

A tanzanite gemstone, like topaz and diamonds, has excellent cleavage, and a good, sharp blow may break it in half! When cutting raw tanzanite into gems, gem cutters must contend with a variety of issues, including the fact that it seems to be different hues depending on the angle from which it is seen. It might be blue, violet-blue, or violet in colour (varying from bright sapphire to ultramarine). The less-than-desirable yellowish-brown tint seen in most rough crystals is easy to deal with; when heated to between 752 and 932 degrees F, it disappears. This heat treatment also improves the appearance of the more attractive blue and violet hues. 

What Is Tanzanite?

According to Brenda Harwick, senior manager of gemology teaching at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), stones are classified into species and varieties in gemology, and tanzanite is a variation of the species zoisite. It is classified as a gemstone since it has a particular chemical composition, is inorganic, and is natural. Calcium, aluminium, silica oxide, and hydroxide are all included in tanzanite's constitution. It's a calcium aluminium hydroxy silicate, in other words.

What matters outside of chemistry class is that tanzanite has two key gemstone characteristics: beauty and rarity. According to Harwick, one of the most valuable characteristics of a diamond is that it cannot be found anywhere on the planet. Certain geological events are required for it to form.

What Does Tanzanite Look Like?

Tanzanite is valued for its pristine blue or blue-violet hue, which is comparable to sapphire. Color, after all, is what sells colourful stones, according to Harwick. As a result, better stones will have more vivid colour and weigh at least 5 carats. The higher the value, the larger the stone and the more vivid the hue.

Surprisingly, when tanzanite is mined, it does not retain its bright hue. Heat treatment is used to create the blue hue in up to 95% of the stones mined. The majority of tanzanite is brownish in colour when it is mined. Tanzanite's colour is stable once heated to a vivid blue, so purchasers don't have to worry about it fading.

The colour of tanzanite may begin to trend toward a grey or purple hue depending on how it is cut, lowering its value. Thulite (pink) and anyolite (red/ruby) are additional zoisite variations, although it may also appear in various hues like greenish or yellow.

The value of Tanzanite

Although tanzanite is more uncommon than diamonds and sapphire, it has a lesser market value. One explanation might be the durability aspect; according to, tanzanite is only "fairly durable," but sapphires are second only to diamonds in terms of durability. While sapphires may cost anywhere from $800 to $1,200 per carat, tanzanite is just $300 to $425 per carat, making it a cost-effective sapphire alternative depending on the application.

To put both of these stones into context, diamonds start at approximately $3,080 per carat and may skyrocket in value from there. Prices vary because value varies with supply and demand.

How is it used today?

Tanzanite, like many other gems, has no special industrial value, but it plays a significant role in the jewellery business. There aren't many blue stones, especially with such a vivid hue, and tanzanite is the only one that doesn't have a synthetic equivalent.

Some individuals believe that gemstones have spiritual or therapeutic properties. Ancient peoples undoubtedly had unique beliefs and purposes for them. We can't go into the history of tanzanite because it was just discovered recently.

When tanzanite first appeared on the jewellery market in 1968, it shifted Tiffany & Co.'s aesthetic from "basic gold jewellery to vibrant designs with big stones," according to Melanie Abrams of The New York Times. Tanzanite works best in special occasion jewellery or things like necklaces and earrings due to its less lasting nature.

Iris Gems has accumulated an unparalleled collection of rare, unique, untreated and certified stones (Gubelin, SSef, AGL, GRS) over the years. Iris has the potential to manage large and personalized orders. We have always excited our customers with the delivery of stones in time and the excellent conditions for their jewels. Our culture enhances innovation. Our desire to try new things prompted us to create new cuts.  Our unique cuts in tanzanite collections have received different compliments and are quite popular among our customers (image of our Habit stones below). We have prospered in our continued innovation, and consequently, we have been at the forefront of different progress in the sector.