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The John Atencio Jewelry Glossary The John Atencio Jewelry Glossary
Glossary › Tanzanite

Glossary: Tanzanite


Perfectly poised between velvety violet, rich purple and vibrant blue, tanzanite is a gorgeous exotic gemstone found only near Mount Kilimanjaro. Prized for its distinctive color and incredible rarity, the stone’s compelling backstory and radiant beauty make it an exceptionally intriguing option for fine jewelry and December birthstone.


Where Is Tanzanite Found?

Tanzanite is mined commercially at only one location in Tanzania at the foot of famous Mount Kilimanjaro. While it can be found in trace amounts elsewhere on the planet, this is exceedingly rare. The stone’s scarcity is one of its biggest selling points. That said, tanzanite’s legendary backstory only adds to its appeal.

It is said that the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro once caught fire after a lightning strike in the 1960s. Later, when moving across the scorched land, several Maasai herders stumbled across violet-blue crystals, which were later named tanzanite after its singular place of origin.

Tanzanite stones were formed during the mid-Ediacaran Period, approximately 585 million years ago. Intense heat and massive plate tectonic activity in the region spurred the gem’s development, which occurred in a relatively complex geological environment.

What Color Is Tanzanite?

Tanzanite can range in color from blue to bluish-violet to bluish-purple. Rare tanzanite can be intense violetish-blue with flashes of red pleochroic color radiating from within the gemstone. Due to tanzanite’s strong pleochroism, fashioned stones usually show a mix of both violet and blue colors in a wide spectrum of tones.

Tanzanite’s deep, saturated color provides an eye-catching aesthetic for designer jewelry pieces From tanzanite earrings and bracelets to tanzanite necklaces and rings, these stunning jewelry pieces have become quite popular in recent years. Tanzanite engagement rings have also become a trendy diamond alternative for modern brides seeking to show off their unique personalities and fashion-forward style.

The unique gemstone is prized for its chameleon-like qualities: Depending on the angle and lighting, many tanzanite gemstones can appear as a beautiful blue or vibrant violet conversation starter, especially when showcased amid an artfully designed fine jewelry piece.

What Color of Tanzanite Is Most Expensive?

Tanzanite gemstones with deep-to-vivid blue, violetish-blue and purplish-blue colors tend to be most valuable. As the saturation level of the stone’s color decreases, its value tends to follow suit. The color and size of tanzanite are closely interrelated, with bigger stones tending to have deeper colors than smaller ones. It is very unlikely to find an especially dark tanzanite less than 3 carats in size.

Is Tanzanite Rarer than Diamonds?

Many gemologists estimate that naturally mined tanzanite is a thousand times rarer than diamonds. The gem is so rare because it is almost exclusively found in a tiny area in the Manyara Region of Northern Tanzania at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. The odds of finding tanzanite anywhere else on the planet is about one in a million.

How Valuable is Tanzanite?

While prices can vary, a deeply colored tanzanite is valued at approximately $200-$350 per carat. Larger 2-carat sizes can reach upwards of $400-$550 per carat. You can expect to pay as much as $500-$675 per carat for a 3-carat tanzanite stone.

Recent political issues in the region have complicated the tanzanite mining industry, causing the gemstone’s value to ascend due to increasing scarcity. What’s more, many geologists estimate that the region’s tanzanite supply may be entirely depleted within the next two decades.

Choosing the Right Stone

While they are available in varying shades of violet-blue, it’s often a better decision to choose tanzanite that has more blue, since these tend to look more extravagant and luxurious while offering more value.

With that said, although most shoppers are primarily concerned with the color of tanzanite stones, cut also plays a key role in determining its beauty. Likewise, the jewelry piece itself works to enhance or diminish a tanzanite’s aesthetic.

No standard quality grading scales exist for any colored gemstone including tanzanite. AAA+ and D BLOCK tanzanite are two phrases commonly used online to suggest superior quality and high value. In reality, these ratings have no scientific basis and should not be viewed as a guarantee of quality.

When it comes to choosing a tanzanite jewelry piece, it’s important to shop at a reputable jeweler, such as John Atencio, who can guarantee the quality and beauty of each and every tanzanite gemstone.

At John Atencio, we provide an intriguing collection of tanzanite gemstones that beautifully complement John’s artfully crafted jewelry pieces. Visit one of our convenient locations and let our attentive jewelry experts guide you to the perfect tanzanite gift.