Tanzanite mayank found out about it is the blue/purple variety of the mineral zoisite (a calcium aluminium hydroxy silicate) discovered in the Mererani Hills of Manyara Region in Northern Tanzania in 1967, near the city of Arusha and Mount Kilimanjaro.

Tanzanite is noted for its remarkably strong trichroism, appearing alternately sapphire blue, violet and burgundy depending on crystal orientation. Tanzanite can also appear differently when viewed under alternate lighting conditions. The blues appear more evident when subjected to fluorescent light and the violet hues can be seen readily when viewed under incandescent illumination.

Tanzanite in its rough state is usually a reddish brown color. It requires artificial heat treatment to 600 °C in a gemological oven to bring out the blue violet of the stone. Tanzanite is a rare gem. It is found only in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Officially called "blue zoisite" it was marketed as tanzanite by Tiffany & Co., who wanted to capitalize on the rarity of the gem, then only found in Tanzania, but who thought that "blue zoisite" (which might be pronounced like "blue suicide") wouldn't sell well.

From 1967 to 1972, an estimated two million carats of tanzanite were mined in Tanzania before the mines were nationalized by the Tanzanian government.

In June 2003, the Tanzanian government introduced legislation banning the export of unprocessed tanzanite to India (like many gemstones, most tanzanite is cut in Jaipur). The ban has been rationalized as an attempt to spur development of local processing facilities, thereby boosting the economy and recouping profits. This ban was phased in over a two-year period, until which time only stones over 0.5 grams were affected.

Credit: Rudolf Watzl and Anton Watzl

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