ATTRIBUTES OF TANZANITE
- Rarity: Tanzanite’s only known source in the world is a 4km strip of land near Mount Kilimanjaro, northern Tanzania. This single, limited source renders Tanzanite at least a thousand times more than diamonds. With only one known source to date, it is predicted that within the next 10 – 12 years no more gem-quality tanzanite will be found.
- Color: Tanzanite is uniquely trichroic. This means that in its rough form, it radiates three different colors from each of its crystallographic axes: blue, violet and burgundy. Once cut and polished, Tanzanite ranges from electric violets to vibrant blues, deep royals and rich indigo. The color of Tanzanite is strongly related to the presence of vanadium and titanium in its crystallographic structure.
- African mystique: Its geology is so unique that the chances of Tanzanite occurring elsewhere in the world are unlikely. Tanzanite’s exclusively African heritage and the alluring narrative of its discovery have proved to be a unique selling feature. Tanzanite jewelry is a particularly attractive investment for foreigners visiting the African continent, as it allows them to take home, something that is uniquely African.
- Investment value: There is no other investment that will yield as great a return as investing in Tanzanite of the highest quality. It is more likely to increase in value as supply gets less and demand increases. For Investment Tanzanite contact us for a personal consultation as no two Tanzanite alike
Origin of Tanzanite
Tanzanite’s only known source in the world is a 4km strip of land near Mount Kilimanjaro, northern Tanzania. This single, limited source renders Tanzanite at least a thousand times more than diamonds. With only one known source to date, it is predicted that within the next 10 – 12 years no more gem-quality Tanzanite will be found. Its geology is so unique that the chances of Tanzanite occurring elsewhere in the world are highly unlikely. Because of this scarcity, Tanzanite jewelry is extremely sought-after and valuable.
Tanzanite was brought into the commercial market place by Manuel D'Souza, a tailor by profession and prospector by passion, who incorrectly identified it as a sapphire. In years to follow, Tanzanite found its way to the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) in New York, who analyze the gem and identified it as a variety of the mineral Zoisite.
Though there are various accounts of how Tanzanite was first discovered in Tanzania, the most credible, and widely accepted story, started with an Arusha tailor named Manual d’Souza. On July 7th 1967, d’Souza discovered a cluster of transparent blue stones laying on the ground near the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, which he immediately mistook for sapphires. He presented them to an acquaintance, who suggested they have the stones tested for hardness, in order to identify their compounds. The test ruled out the possibility of sapphires, as the stones were much softer than a typical sapphire. They were then misidentified as Peridot, and later as Duortierite. The gems appeared to be something entirely new, unknown to the gemological world.
The Tanzanite discovered by d’Souza were sent off to the GIA (Gemological Institute of America), where expert gemologists identified them as a variant of the stone Zoisite. At around the same time, the correct identification of de Souza's discovery was made by Ian McCloud, a Tanzanian government geologist in Dodoma, with later confirmations from Harvard, the British Museum, and University of Heidelberg.
Bellow are some images of Tanzanite jewelry by Shimansky
Shortly after de Souza's discovery, he attempted to register his mining claim with the Tanzanian Government’s Mines & Geology Department, but he soon discovered that other prospectors had already registered Zoisite mining claims before he managed to change the name of the gem on his original claim registration. During this period, another popular name for this variety of Zoisite was "Skaiblu," a Swahili-language interpretation of the English term "Sky Blue."
The short strip of land at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro soon became covered in mines as people were hoping for their share in this new discovery. As a result, d'Souza was unable to maintain control over his mining claim. In 1971, the Tanzanian government took control of the mines and turned them over to the State Mining Corporation in 1976.
Tanzanite first became popular commercially when Henry Platt, the great grandson of Louis Comfort Tiffany, founder of the American jewelry manufacturer Tiffany & Co, fell in love with the gem. He became so excited at the prospect of selling it, that he immediately set about creating a marketing campaign around it, and he was adamant to be the first to bring Tanzanite to the jewelry market on a grand scale. It was Platt who named the gem “Tanzanite,” after its country of origin, Tanzania. Platt famously called Tanzanite "the most important gemstone discovery in over 2000 years." Seemingly overnight, Tanzanite became the most coveted and popular gemstone in the world.
Today, Tanzanite rings and other Tanzanite jewelry creations are a popular choice not only for investment, but also to wear – the stones offer a unique beauty unachievable by other gems, and with their rich African heritage, they offer foreigners visiting Africa the opportunity to purchase a truly African keepsake.
Shimansky is home to the most beautiful Tanzanite rings in South Africa. Sourced directly from the Maasai tribe in Tanzania, only the very best quality gems are chosen for each Shimansky Ayanda Tanzanite jewelry creation. The Shimansky Ayanda Queen of Tanzanite collection comprises a variety of breathtaking rings, pendants and earrings.
Mining of Tanzanite
With an established direct-to-mine relationship, Shimansky sources top quality certified Tanzanite direct from the Maasai tribe in Tanzania, contributing to their sustainability and affording a unique opportunity to select the latest Tanzanite mined. These beautiful, top quality gems are transformed into stunning Shimansky Tanzanite jewelry creations, forming part of the Ayanda Queen of Tanzanite jewelry collection.
Since the discovery of Tanzanite in 1967, it is estimated that two million carats of Tanzanite were mined in Tanzania before the Tanzanian government nationalized the mines.
Only two kilometers wide and four kilometers long, the Tanzanite mining area was divided into four sections by the Tanzanian government in 1990. These sections are known as Blocks A, B, C and D and have been allotted to different mining groups. The A-Block and C-Block are reserved for foreign investment and large operators, while B and D can be mined by locals.
Tanzanite is found in sausage-shaped formations, called Boudins. Boudins are phlegmatic veins that have become stressed and have broken into smaller pieces. Tanzanite stones are found in small pockets inside the Boudins. Not every Boudin will produce Tanzanite, and many that do, contain low-grade material not useful for jewelry.
Initially, Tanzanite was easily collected from the surface, but scavenging mining didn’t last long and pits and tunnels quickly took preference. Geological testing has shown that Tanzanite layers exist down to 200 meters below the ground. As mining levels drop deeper, increasingly sophisticated infrastructure is required to access the Tanzanite. World-class infrastructure is put in place to secure the shafts, provide air supply and ventilation, watering and de watering, to ensure the safety of the mine workers, and ensure that the Tanzanite can be extracted safely and productively.
Processing and sorting takes place on-site. Rough Tanzanite is sorted both manually and using a fully automated optical sorting/primary grading system - a world first in the colored gemstone industry. There are various steps in the sorting process.
Firstly, the gems are picked from the shaft, after which they are taken to the sorting house where they are cleaned and weighed. Unwanted materials (ie. non-gem matter) are removed from the gems, and then the cobbling process begins. The gems are cobbled and graded so that they can be divided into various groups. Gems of good quality are taken away for carat, clarity and color grading, while others are taken away to be sold as they are, and the off-cuts or “waste” are collected to be sold locally. Once al the grading and sizing procedures have taken place, the gems are packed and ready to be sold.
Around 70 000 people are supported and employed by the Tanzanite mining, cutting and trading industry, worldwide. Buying Tanzanite in South Africa and other countries, from a reputable jeweler, supports the Tanzanian economy, and allows buyers to invest in something truly spectacular – a gem so precious and rare, that even the most striking sapphires struggle to compete with its beauty.
Cutting and Polishing of Tanzanite
In the rough, Tanzanite shows potential thanks to its attractive bluish color, but once cut and polished, the gem is brought to life, displaying magnificent fire, brilliance and scintillation. Cut by a master craftsman, each single facet of the Tanzanite gem is shaped by hand. When you purchase a Tanzanite ring, Tanzanite necklace, or Tanzanite earrings from Shimansky, you can be certain that only the highest quality stones have been used, and that each stone has been cut and polished to maximize its beauty. All of Shimansky’s Tanzanite is sourced direct from the mine and is cut and polished in-house in the Shimansky factory with the most cutting-edge technology and highly skilled craftsmen, after which it is set and transformed into breath-taking Tanzanite jewelry creations.
The process of transforming Tanzanite from rough to polished involves various steps:
STEP 1: COBBLING
After mining, the non-gemstone material is removed from the Tanzanite with small, sharp hammers. This process is known as “cobbling.”
STEP 2: INITIAL GRADING
The cobbled Tanzanite is weighed and sorted into groups based on color and size in order to determine value. Through a vigorous and necessary processing, optical and manual sorting system, the rough Tanzanite gems are prepared for the stages that follow.
STEP 3: CUTTING & POLISHING
Shimansky’s highly skilled craftsmen examine each Tanzanite and determine which shape and cut is best for the gem. The planning process is of utmost importance, as the cutter needs to select a cut that will yield the most brilliance, and bring out the stone’s full potential. A wrong cut can have a massive negative impact on the value of the gem. A ‘window’ is polished into the preformed Tanzanite in order to check the Tanzanite’s clarity. Before the Tanzanite can be cut, it is divided into desired, marked pieces, a process in which markings are made against the planes that the rough stone needs to be swan or cut.
These preformed Tanzanite stones are attached to a dop stick with hot wax, which holds the stone in place for the spinning wheel, where the “bruiting” process takes place. During this process, the corners of the rough stone are rounded, and the Tanzanite’s girdle is formed (the girdle is the surface which is formed around the thickest part of the stone). Another Tanzanite stone, set in a “bruiting stick,” is used to gradually round off the corners of the rough stone until it is perfectly round at its thickest part. The dop stick is attached to the machine at precise angles, to achieve perfect symmetry and correct angles. The Tanzanite is then cut into the desired shape. A quality check is done at the end of the bruiting process to ensure the Tanzanite meets the criteria to move onto the polishing process.
The Tanzanite is then pushed against a lap (a spinning wheel) to polish the stone. Polishing gives the stone its final facets and it is during this stage that the gem comes to life. The process requires a huge amount of skill and concentration, and it is this part of the process where the stone is given its grandeur. The gem is meticulously checked by the cutter after each facet has been polished; he inspects each facet closely before moving onto the next one. After being polished, the Tanzanite is ready to be sent to the Tanzanite International grading facility, where its color, clarity, cut and carat weight will be graded. Once the grading is complete, the gem will either be sold as a loose stone, or it will be set in a beautiful jewelry creation.
Tanzanite is a unique gem, and requires experience, skill and attention to detail in the cutting and polishing processes. To achieve the optimum cut, the cutter must give the gem his undivided attention, and as a result, it can take days to cut and polish a single stone. The result, however, is worth the effort. Tanzanite jewelry is not only a great investment, but is absolutely beautiful to wear. When buying Tanzanite in South Africa, select a stone from a reputable jeweler that has been cut and polished to maximize its beauty and reveal its true potential.
Setting Tanzanite into Jewelry
Tanzanite is a unique and beautiful gem that comes to life when set in a pair of earrings, a bracelet, a necklace or a ring. Exceptionally beautiful and unique, Tanzanite jewelry has become sought-after all over the world. However, it is important to note that not any jeweler can work with this unique gem. On the Moh’s Scale of Hardness, Tanzanite is relatively soft with a hardness of 6.5 - 7. This is much softer than, for instance, a diamond, which has a hardness of 10. This means that Tanzanite is a stone with lower durability than diamonds and many other gems, and it is more prone to chipping than most traditional gemstones. As a result, great care must be taken by the jeweler who sets the stone, as well as by the person who wears the final jewelry creation. This is especially true when the Tanzanite gem is worn in a ring, as it is more likely to get bumped or knocked during everyday activities.
In addition to being vulnerable to damage when worn, Tanzanite is also vulnerable when set in a jewelry creation. Tanzanite’s inherent division means that its structure is sometimes under threat during the setting process. It is very sensitive to heat, or sudden changes in temperature, which is why equipment like jewelry steam cleaners are best avoided around this precious gem. If exposed to changes in temperature, the stone could easily fracture, which affects not only its beauty, but also its value. In addition, Tanzanite’s cleavage also makes it vulnerable to fracturing if cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner.
Great care must be taken when working with Tanzanite jewelry. If a jeweler is inexperienced in working with Tanzanite, the stone can be greatly damaged during the setting process. When buying Tanzanite in South Africa, be sure to choose a reputable jeweler with experience in working with Tanzanite. The Shimansky craftsmen have over two decades of experience working with this phenomenal gem.
Shimansky sources only the finest quality Tanzanite straight from Tanzania. Great care is taken when planning each stone’s cut and polish – Tanzanite has incredible potential and in order to maximize its beauty and reveal its brilliance, cutters examine the stone carefully before deciding upon a cut that would best suit that particular stone. Using cutting-edge technology in conditions carefully set out for this unique gem, the stone is carefully sculpted and brought to life. Shimansky jewelers rely on years of knowledge and experience with each Tanzanite setting.
Known for classic, yet contemporary designs, Shimansky’s range of Tanzanite jewelry settings can be described as both “modern” and “timeless.” Each setting complements the shape and cut of the stone, and is carefully selected to bring out the stone’s best qualities.
The Shimansky Ayanda Queen of Tanzanite collection features an array of exquisite Tanzanite rings, earrings, pendants, bracelets and necklaces, each one set to perfection by the Shimansky team. Whether you find a completed Tanzanite creation that steals your heart, or find your perfect loose Tanzanite stone to be set to your preferred specifications, your precious Tanzanite jewelry creation will become a precious family heirloom, increasing in value as time passes. The Ayanda Queen of Tanzanite range of handcrafted Tanzanite jewelry creations are set either with, or without, accompanying diamonds.