Gemologist Lucy Reynaud, FGA DG GIA, explains why December has three birthstones and why Tanzanite is the best of them all.
Our Elsa Tanzanite and Brilliant Diamond Drop Earrings (left) and our matching Gigi Blue Tanzanite and Diamond Ring.
December is one of those lucky months which is blessed with not one, not two but THREE birthstones – Turquoise, Zircon and Tanzanite. However, I’m going to focus on the one that was added to the list the most recently – Tanzanite. In fact, it was added very recently indeed, as Tanzanite only made it to the list of birthstones in 2002.
Whilst the decision to assign certain gemstones to certain months dates back to Biblical times, or even texts specifically found in the bible, most of the list we currently use was decided in the 1930s and 1940s by a group of jewellers in the Midwest who got together to develop a modern list of birthstones and alternate birthstones.
The decision to include Tanzanite on the list was reached through an industry consensus, making it a commercial, rather than traditional choice.
And rightly so!
Tanzanite was first discovered by a Masai tribesman in 1969 in Tanzania, a country in East Africa. It is actually a mineral named Zoisite, but stones which are gem quality have been called Tanzanite. The mine the stones come from is located at the base of Kilimanjaro and covers a space of 4 square kilometres.
Tanzanite was first named by Henry Platt, great-grandson of the famous Louis C. Tiffany. Tiffany and Co. realised the importance of the gemstone and quickly made themselves the main distributor. Their marketing efforts made tanzanite one of the most popular gemstones by the 1990s, and it is now as well known as the “Big 3” – Emerald, Ruby and Sapphire.
Our Aria Tanzanite and Diamond Ring (left) and our Queenie Tanzanite and Diamond Drop Earrings (right) which is already with their owner.
Tanzanite is an interesting stone as it comes out of the ground naturally trichroic (displaying 3 colours). Natural rough tanzanite gemstones fresh out of the mines are most commonly found in shades of bronze or yellow-brown, sometimes with tinges of greens and greys. It isn’t until they are heated in crucibles to above five hundred degrees to bring out the most desirable blue-purple, and become dichroic, (displaying 2 colours).
There are now natural untreated Tanzanites on the market which display the blue-purple colour that they are renowned for, however these are rare and appropriately costly! It must be noted that once Tanzanite has been heat treated, the new colour will remain, and is stable.
The GIA states that As a 6 to 7 on the Mohs scale, Tanzanite has fair to poor toughness, and also a tendency to break when struck. While tanzanite is not as hard or as tough as a stone like sapphire, it still can be worn in all types of jewelry with proper precautions against rough wearing or hard blows.
One little known fact about Tanzanite is that the infamous Heart of the Ocean “Blue Diamond” in the movie the Titanic was, in fact, a truly fabulous Tanzanite.
Tanzanite is also said to be able to alleviate stress and reduce blood pressure, and can be used to treat anxiety, depression, worry and fear.
Here at The Jewel Box, we would love to help you create a piece bespoke piece of jewellery just for you. Call us on +65 6733 4100 to make an appointment.
Discover more of our amazing Tanzanite jewellery pieces.