With its mesmerizing colors of velvety blue and rich royal purple, the December birthstone tanzanite is rarer than diamonds. That’s because tanzanite is mined in only one place on earth: the Merelani Hills near Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, which is where it gets its name.
Tanzanite is a relatively young gemstone. Discovered in 1967 by a Masai tribesman, it has since become one of the most popular and sought-after gems in the world. This holiday season tanzanite has reached an unprecedented peak of popularity, taking pride of place in luxury magazine gift guides as well as Christmas catalogs from prestigious jewelers and department stores.
Let’s take a look.
Championed by Tiffany & Co.
Tanzanite, the blue variety of the mineral zoisite, was named for Tanzania by world-renowned jewelers Tiffany & Co. Early on, Tiffany’s recognized the regal gemstone’s potential and made a deal to become its main distributor, promoting it with a major publicity campaign that began in 1968.
Almost immediately, tanzanite caught on with leading jewelry designers around the world, as well as with fine jewelry fans searching for unusual gems outside The Big 3 – emerald, ruby and sapphire.
Today, JTV (Jewelry Television) calls tanzanite “a top-rated bestseller, known as the fashion gemstone of this generation.”
In the Eye of the Beholder
According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), tanzanite’s appearance is influenced by its pleochroism, which is the ability of a gemstone to show different colors when viewed in different crystal directions. Tanzanite can be violetish blue (similar to a sapphire blue) or much more purplish. Often, both colors are readily visible in a polished stone when it is gently rocked and tilted.
Blue is usually located on the short axis of the crystal, so it is often more difficult to cut a large blue stone. As a result, blue is rarer than purple and commands a premium price.
The Ultimate Gem Lover’s Gift
This holiday season, the luxury lifestyle magazine Robb Report is featuring tanzanite as one of its top five gifts for gem lovers. It is teaming up with jewelry designer David Yurman, who is celebrating 35 years in business, to present a fabulous 52-carat tanzanite which Yurman purchased from a private dealer.
“I fell in love with its vibrancy and bluish-violet color immediately,” Yurman told the Robb Report’s Jill Newman, “…it is rare to see a tanzanite of this size, color, and saturation.”
According to Newman, Yurman is offering the extraordinary tanzanite to a Robb Report reader, who will have the opportunity to collaborate with the designer on a piece of jewelry custom made to showcase it (starting at $50,000!). The recipient of this special gift will meet with Yurman at his office in New York City, visit over lunch, and take a tour of his private workshop and archives.
“Stones like this one have become even more collectible lately as sophisticated consumers—who are better educated on lesser-known gems than ever before—have looked to diversify their jewelry collections,” said Newman.
For more information, please contact Bruce Weldyn, David Yurman, 212-752-4255, davidyurman.com
Sources: Gia.edu; RobbReport.com