Jan 08

A Short History of Tanzanites

In 1967, when a Maasai tribesman discovered Tanzanite in Tanzania, he had no idea that he had found a stone that the world had never heard of or seen before!

Tanzanite, the birthstone of December, is highly valued not just for its brilliant colour but because it can be found only in one place in the world. A thousand times rarer than the precious diamond, Tanzanite gemstones are believed to keep one free from negative thoughts, elevate mood, bring good fortune and luck to those wearing it.

Let us take a look at the interesting history of the gemstone:

1967 – Discovery of Tanzanite

A Masai tribesman, found some highly transparent, intense blue crystals in Merelani, in northern Tanzania. He showed it to a local fortune hunter and tailor, Manuel De Souza.  He thought them to be new, vibrant Sapphire deposits but no one was quite sure what the new crystals were.  Their colour was more alluring and exotic than sapphires. The new gem was eventually named Tanzanite, and came to rival the most popular gemstones of the time.

1968 – Named ‘Tanzanite’ by Tiffany & Co.

The great grandson of Henry B. Platt, great grandson of Louis Tiffany and later Chairman and President of New York’s Tiffany and Co., noticed the beauty of Tanzanite and decided to capitalize on it with shrewd marketing. Platt named the stone “Tanzanite”. The stone was scientifically called “Blue Zoisite” (could be pronounced as “blue suicide”) but Tiffany and Co. thought it wouldn’t sell well. To capitalize on its rarity and single location, they used the ad campaign, that tanzanite could be found in two places “in Tanzania and at Tiffany’s”. It was launched with much fanfare and a big publicity campaign in 1968. Realizing its potential as an international, Tiffany and Co. became its distributors.

2001 –The gemstone is ranked 2nd favorite colored gemstone in the USA after the Sapphire

With the exception of Sapphire, Tanzanite has surpassed the sales figures of all coloured gemstones in the U.S.A., so much had the demand for Tanzanite skyrocketed in the recent years. Tanzanite is the preferred fashionable gem of the millennium, being a thousand times rarer than diamonds and having a little over a decade of mining history.

2002 – Tanzanite becomes the birthstone of December

In 2002, recognizing its soaring popularity, the jewelers industry’s official birthstone list added Tanzanite. It joined Turquoise and Zircon as acceptable birthstones for December. Since 1912, it was the first time the list had been changed, which speaks volumes for how valuable the stone has become.


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