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Birthstone of the Month for December: Tanzanite

Birthstone Jewellery

The December birthstone is the beautiful tanzanite, an exclusive gem that can only be found in one place on Earth, a region near the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro. The unique conditions for the formation of Tanzanite have made this gemstone rarer than diamonds. Tanzanite offers gorgeous shades of vibrant blue and luxurious violet due to its vanadium content, and these wintry hues make it a perfect gemstone for December.

Adored by personalities around the world, the sparkling blue Tanzanite is often referred to as the ‘gemstone of a generation’ and considered an exceptional stone by many.

History of Tanzanite

Tanzanite is so rare that it was only found in 1967, despite belief that the stone is over 585 million years old. It was discovered by a Maasai tribesman called Ali Juuyawatu who, after spotting a cluster of blue crystals, alerted Manuel de Souza, a Goan tailor and gold prospector living in Arusha in Tanzania. The stunning gem was unearthed in the Merelani i

Hills of the Manyara region and, to this day, this small mining area of approximately 7km long and 2km wide is still the only place on the planet where Tanzanite can be found.

The stone was first given the scientific name of ‘blue-violet zoisite’, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that Tiffany & Co. decided to change it to ‘Tanzanite’ to make it more consumer-friendly. This name also reflects the limited geographic origin of the stone. The American luxury jewellery and specialty retailer was the first brand to introduce Tanzanite to the market in 1968, a mere year after its discovery.

Since then, around 2 million carats of Tanzanite have been mined; because there is only a limited supply of this vivid blue gem, a mining process had to be put into place to prevent the depletion of the region’s sources.

Image: 18ct White Gold Diamond & Tanzanite Cluster Ring

Properties of Tanzanite

For years, the wonderful properties of Tanzanite have made it a sought-after gemstone, chosen by many silver screen personalities. Some of the stone’s most popular features include:

Rarity – Because Tanzanite is only found in one small location, its value is likely to soar over time, especially as mines become emptier and fewer stones enter the market.

Colour – One of the main characteristics of Tanzanite is its vibrant colour. The gemstone is known for its deeply saturated violet-blue hues, which are rarer than its paler ones. Due to the stone’s pleochroism, or the ability to absorb different light wavelengths depending on the direction of the rays, Tanzanite presents blue, violet and burgundy colours as its viewing angle changes. Jewel cutters can fashion stones ranging from violet-blue to bluish violet, depending on how much weight they want to retain from the uncut stone.

Clarity – Inclusions that are visible to the naked eye decrease the value of Tanzanite, especially in lighter-coloured gems.

Cut – While cushion and oval cuts are more commonly found, this stone is also available in many other shapes.

Carat – Usually, Tanzanite gems that weigh more than five carats have finer hues, as its colours become less saturated in smaller sizes.

Hardness – With a 6.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, Tanzanite is durable but can be vulnerable to scratches and chipping. This means the stone is best-suited for special occasions; however, if you wish to wear Tanzanite in an everyday piece of jewellery, earrings and pendants are a great option.

Image: 18ct White Gold Tanzanite and Diamond Drop Pendant

Famous Tanzanite Around the World

Despite the fact that Tanzanite is a relatively newly-found gemstone, it has quickly become one of the most popular, with high-profile figures such as Beyoncé, Cate Blanchett and Sarah Jessica Parker wearing this glittering stone on the red carpet. There are many Tanzanite gems that have become world-famous over the years, such as:

  • Rough Tanzanite – The earth’s largest uncut Tanzanite gem weighs a staggering 16,839 carats (the equivalent of 3.38 kg or 7.46 lb). It was mined in 2005.
  • Queen of Kilimanjaro Tiara – This is one of the largest faceted Tanzanite stones ever found. It weighs 242 carats and is the focal piece of a tiara created using 803 tsavorite garnets and 913 diamonds. The tiara is reminiscent of a sinuous hooded king cobra and belongs to Michael Scott’s collection.
  • Peterson Tanzanite Brooch – This striking piece of jewellery includes a pair of matched Tanzanite gems weighing in at 30 carats. Their modified triangular cut showcases the gemstones’ intense blue colour with violet hues. This brooch was designed in 1991 by Harry Winston, Inc. and it’s extremely versatile, as the Tanzanite ‘flowers’ can be detached and worn as earrings.
  • Sea Urchin – Rodney Rayner, a British couture jewellery designer who has exhibited at Baselworld for over three decades, created a beautiful ring he called ‘Sea Urchin’ and which features Tanzanite and diamonds surrounded by 18k pink gold.

Tanzanite at Banks Lyon

Tanzanite jewellery is not just stunning in its vibrancy, it’s also incredibly special; the formation of Tanzanite required a unique event that is often described as a geological phenomenon. Inimitable and unrivalled in beauty, this gem is also the 24thanniversary traditional stone, making it a perfect gift for your beloved. The December birthstone is an incredible jewel that can transform any wardrobe by adding a touch of sophistication, elegance and luxury – ideal for the modern woman who is passionate about style and timeless beauty.

Image: 18ct White Gold Tanzanite and Diamond Cluster Flower Earrings

We have a vast range of tanzanite jewellery, as well as other birthstone jewellery, waiting for you at our Lancaster and Kendal stores.