What is Tanzanite Gemstones?

Imagine being the person who found a gemstone rarer than diamond, what a story that would be and that is exactly the story of Maasai tribesman, Ali Juuyawatu, who found tanzanite in the hills of northern Tanzania near the sublime Mount Kilimanjaro.

Imagine being the person who found a gemstone rarer than diamond, what a story that would be and that is exactly the story of Maasai tribesman, Ali Juuyawatu, who found tanzanite in the hills of northern Tanzania near the sublime Mount Kilimanjaro.

As with all the stories about finding treasure, there is a bit of mystery about the discovery of tanzanite, too. The most commonly believed story is that one-day Maasai herdsmen were tending their cattle in the hills of northern Tanzania not long after a fire had burnt the grasslands. Brownstones and rocks littered the landscape as per usual, but this day the herdsmen notice a blue glow to some of the rocks. 

They took the rocks to a local gemologist, Manuel de Sousa, who thought he had a trove of sapphires in his hands. But after identification procedures were done, it was discovered that the stones were, in fact, rare zoisite crystals.

However, he worries that the name, Blue Zoisite; would have no appeal to the ladies. So he names it Tanzanite after the country in which it had been discovered and requested his company to promote this gorgeous gemstone.

Meanwhile, Manuel de Sousa staked mining claims in the area where the Maasai herdsmen had discovered the gemstones and anticipated his newfound wealth and fame. Sadly, he could not control the mines, and many of all the gemstones were stolen before he could even sell them. He died shortly after in mysterious circumstances in a car crash. Since then the mines have seen disasters, looting by local gangs, nationalization before a recent period of settlement has led to a steady supply of the gemstones.

Things get a little gloomy, however, when we discover that in the U.S. Gemological Survey records, it listed an identification of a blue zoisite crystal by Dr William Pecora. Then there is the Jumanne Ngoma, who was awarded $22 by the government of Tanzania officially recognizing him as the discoverer of Tanzanite. He says the country's president Julius Nyerere came up with the name, Tanzanite.

All these riddles, questions and twists in a gemstone that was discovered in the past 50 years or so.

Tanzanite Gemstones Colour: Known as a blue gemstone, but it is so much more than that. Its colours vary from light almost sky blue up to a deep midnight blue. Also adding to this blue some flashes of red and touches of violet and purple, now you can know why this gemstone really catches the eye.

When grading gemstones like diamond, the whiter the stone, the higher the value, however with coloured gemstones, the more vivid and saturated the colour, the higher the value.

A chart has been designed to act as a guide when valuing Tanzanite Gemstones. However, personal preference should always be taken into account.

Firstly, there is the dominant colour, either violet or blue, with blue being more expensive. Then there is colour saturation, the deeper the colour, the better and finally, tone with darker gemstones being more desired. But be a little bit careful here as a dark stone without intense colouring will not be so highly rated.

There are many colour charts out there rating coloured gemstones, and the different styles and opinions can get confusing, so look out as these are only guides.

On top of this outstanding colour range, tanzanite also has a unique ability to change colour depending on the viewing angle and not just from one colour to another but three different colours. In one exquisitely cut gemstone, you could see blue, red and purple blaze before you as the gems turn from one side to another. This phenomenon is known as pleochroism, and it is quite rare, especially in a three-colour range.

Tanzanite Species: Tanzanite is the most famous of the zoisite crystals, but other forms include Anyolite, which is a mixture of ruby and green colouring and Thulite, the pink variety.

Tanzanite Gemstones Price:

Tanzanite Gemstones for sale - Price List


Weight Range

Price Range

Light Colour

1 to 2 carat

$70 to 150 / carat

Medium Colour

1 to 2 carat

$110 to 350 / carat

Deep Colour

1 to 2 carat

$150 to 500 / carat

When pricing coloured gemstones, we need to consider what is known as the 4 Cs, cut, clarity, colour and carat, and usually, it is the colour that is the most important.

With Tanzanite the colour we are looking for in an ideal and valuable gemstone is a deep saturated blue, with red and violet flashes. For a few reasons, the blue colour is valued a little higher than gemstones with a more purple hue. A good even colour with no colour variations or zones is also highly valued.

Cutting Tanzanite has its own particular issues. Once cut the stones will visibly change colour when viewed from different angles, in the case of tanzanite, there can be three colours on show. The cutters will try to show off the pure blue colour as much as possible. However, this can mean a lot of the stone is sacrificed. So in the case of Tanzanite gemstones, the cut is doubly important when pricing.

Which colour of tanzanite gemstone is most expensive?

If you have done some sort of research into coloured gemstones and their value, you will have come across the old saying, 'colour is king', and tanzanite is no different. But which colour rules in tanzanite kingdom? Blue. There, that was easy, wasn't it!

Tanzanite gemstones are available in blue, purple or violet-blue but the bluer, the better.

Other factors also come into it with the ability of tanzanite to change colour when viewed from various angles so the blue may flash to red or purple and it moves around. Larger gems also seem to have more depth to the colour, more vividness.

Tanzanite gemstone can also look a little different under different light sources; fluorescent lights show a bluer gemstone while incandescent show up the red colours more, candlelight can bring out burgundies and sunlight fires up the blues.

Clarity: Tanzanite gemstone that makes it to the cutter's table is usually free of inclusions or blemishes that are visible to the naked eye. Any gem with obvious flaws or even fractures would be devalued considerably.

Cut and Weight: The intense even blue colours that are so highly valued in a tanzanite gemstone are usually found in a larger carat weight gemstone. This depth of gemstone needs to be around 5 carats or more to really appreciate the deep blues. In contrast, smaller gemstones tend to have a lighter, subtler colouring.

Coloured gemstones have a wide variety of relative densities. For example, a 1-carat sapphire is considerably smaller than a 1 carat; while a 1-carat emerald would be quite a bit larger. Because of this, we would suggest buying gemstones such as tanzanite by physical size, the width in millimeter’s, rather than carat size, so you know exactly what you are getting.

What jewellery is suitable for Tanzanite?

Tanzanite is sitting on 6.5 to 7 on the hardness scale, which is quite lower on the list, in fact, quartz is harder, so are sapphires and zircons.

However, this is quite relative, so we would say that tanzanite gemstone is definitely strong enough to be made into any type of jewellery so long as we take a few precautions.

Tanzanite gemstones are becoming day by day more popular as an engagement ring. With the proper setting, this should be okay. However, we would suggest tanzanite as a more event or special occasion piece of jewellery.

Some interesting facts about Tanzanite Gemstone

Welcome to D Block: The mining sector of Merilani, where all tanzanite originates is divided into four sections, A, B, C and D. "D block" is the section that has the reputation of producing some of the finest and high quantity of tanzanite gemstones over the years. Though beware, since this reputation has emerged, some traders will happily say D block even if they have no idea of the origins of the gemstone.

What's in a name? It is rumoured that the advertising department at Tiffany & Co's misheard the term blue zoisite as blue suicide, so they quickly changed its name.

Style icons such as Cate Blanchett, Beyoncé, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Penelope Cruz have all been spotted rocking tanzanite jewellery.

"The Mawenzi": The biggest tanzanite ever found is a single large crystal of 16,839 carats, which is well over 3kg; and is named after Kilimanjaro's second-highest peak.

The Eyes have it: The colour of tanzanite is similar to two of the most popular gemstones, sapphire and amethyst. The mix of these two colours is often said to look like the gorgeous violet eyes of Elizabeth Taylor.

How to care for Tanzanite Gemstone: Tanzanite gemstones should not be subjected to extreme heat or sudden temperature changes. Additionally, tanzanite gemstones should not be exposed to acid.

Avoid using ultrasonic and steam cleaners. The best way to clean tanzanite is by using soapy water and a soft cloth.

Always make sure to remove any jewellery or gemstones before cleaning, exercising, or engaging in physical activities such as sport.

Store tanzanite away from other gemstones to avoid scratches. It is best to wrap them in a soft cloth or place them inside a fabric-lined jewellery box.