Book ID 566

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Stardancer, 1998
Extract Date: 1998 July 20


El Nino reeks havoc on the Tanzanite mines outside of Arusha, Tanzania. El Nino's heavy rains have caused the mines to flood and cave in. Over 200 people were lost in this mining disaster. Mining operations are expected to resume in the near future.

Tanzanite is one of the most beautiful and exciting gems to come out of East Africa. It is also one of the newest gem varieties known in the gem world. Tanzanite is a transparent sapphire blue to violet variety of the mineral zoisite. It was first discovered in 1967 in the Lelatema Mountains of northern Tanzania. The name: Tanzanite was suggested by Mr. Harry Platt, vice president and gem buyer for Tiffany and Company. The name gained almost immediate acceptance, and Tiffany and Company strongly promoted this gemstone. Today, Tanzanite is recognized throughout the world as one of the most fascinating and visually interesting gemstones. This gem has the unusual property of being trichroic; that is it has a different color down each of its three crystallographic axes. It is often sapphire blue when viewed from one direction, amethystine red from another, and green-yellow from the third. To make the color of the gemstone more uniform, it is normal practice to heat the stone for about two hours at 320 degrees Celsius. In this way Tanzanite turns a more pleasing blue to violet color. The heating process drives off the yellow-green color to produce a dichroic (rather than a trichoic) stone. Most people feel that the finest examples of Tanzanite exhibit an almost Kashmir sapphire blue. Others prefer the deep violet coloration. The light colored stones appear almost lavender. Tanzanites have a good luster, and relatively few inclusions. It is little wonder that Tanzanite has become so popular among collectors and lovers of beautiful and interesting gemstones. All collectors should have at least a few examples of the wonderful color range of Tanzanite.

We, at Stardancer, Ltd. are extremely fortunate in that we have direct Tanzanian connections that allow us to select the finest examples, and at the most competitive pricing. We are in constant communication with a German trained Gemologist and buyer in Arusha, Tanzania. If we, in our inventory, do not have the exact size, cut, and quality Tanzanite stone you want, it can be obtained quickly through our special Tanzanian relationship, and we know their Gemologist to be reliable and competent.

Tanzanite is such a new gemstone, that very little lore has surfaced about it. It has been related, however, that a Masai warior, upon first gazing at a large well faceted deep violet Tanzanite, stared in awe, and then said that it was as though he was was seeing Mt. Kilimanjaro through the morning haze, but that the haze was magically clear; only the color was there. He ascribed great power to that Tanzanite in that he was transported (at least mentally) to that very sacred place. It is not known, however, if he gave back the stone, but from our experience with the Masai people, we would not choose to argue the point.

Feb 2003 - The link is no longer available on line.

Extract ID: 1389