Tanzanite: Mind-Blowing Facts of the Ultimate Rare Gem


My favorite gemstone beside pearls and a slight obsession ever since I spotted it while vacationing in Tanzania a few years ago, turned 50 last year. 2018 marked half a century from the first time tanzanite was introduced on the commercial market. Since then its popularity skyrocketed; to the point that in 2002 the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) decided to make it a birthstone for December. This was the first official change to the birthstone calendar since 1912.

But despite tanzanite’s rapid rise to fame, there is still a layer of mystery that surrounds it. It is precisely that which is fascinating about tanzanite. And trust me, there are plenty of fascinating things about it. Just ask Tiffany and Co., they might tell you a thing or two.

So, what is it exactly that makes tanzanite such a special gem? Well…there’s a whole list of things. Let’s take a look.

Seven Fascinating Facts About Tanzanite

1. Uniqueness

Tanzanite is an ultra-unique gem by many standards. The only place one can ever find tanzanite is near Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Naturally occurring tanzanite does not exist in any other region, country, or continent. No other gem can make this statement, which brings us to the next cool thing about tanzanite; its rarity.

2. Rarity

Tanzanite is a rare treasure to find; some thousand times rarer than diamond, to be exact. Since it is found only in one small area of the world it is estimated that by 2025 the gem will cease to exist unless a new deposit is discovered. In other words, just think of this gem as a limited edition. Pretty cool, isn’t it?!

3. Name

Speaking of Tiffany and Co., it was precisely this legendary company that gave tanzanite its name. Before Tiffany and Co. introduced the gem on the commercial market in 1968, it decided to substitute its original name of zoisite with tanzanite as a way of honoring its country of origin and for marketability purposes. So, basically, Tiffany and Co. baptized tanzanite and is now its godfather. Yup, that’s right – a godfather!

4. Discovery



In 1967 a member of the Maasai Tribe stumbled upon a cluster of blue crystals and confused them with sapphire. When he mentioned it to Manuel d’Souza, a prominent Portuguese mineworker exploring Africa at the time, the latter decided to take it for testing realizing it was unusually vibrant for a sapphire. Gemological Institute of America (GIA) confirmed that it is, in fact, a completely different gem identified as zoisite. And that is how Manuel d’Souza became widely recognized as the official founder of tanzanite.

5. Lore

Many legends have been associated with tanzanite and one of the most intriguing dates back to 585 million years ago. It is believed that is when tanzanite was created by massive tectonic plate activity and strong heat in the area known today as Mount Kilimanjaro. This is such a unique geological phenomenon that stunned many when it was publicized. So, this newest gem has a million years of rich history! Quite a contrast that it makes. Well…just like its color.

6. Color

Ranging from royal blue to indigo, violet, and purple, tanzanite’s color is as exquisite as they come. The cool thing about it is that the color changes when exposed to different lighting conditions and angles from which it’s viewed. This phenomenon is known as the pleochroic effect. It makes tanzanite such a dazzling and striking gem.

7. Meaning

Tanzanite has long been associated with new beginnings and it symbolizes the birth of new life. Therefore, tanzanite makes a great gift for mothers when their child is born. Moreover, tanzanite represents positivity and truth. It is strongly believed that tanzanite brings good luck and protects those who wear it.

Tanzanite in Pop Culture

Anything but mainstream, tanzanite started catching eyes of many celebrities in recent years.  Style icons such as Cate Blanchett, Penelope Cruz, Beyoncé, Sarah Jessica Parker, and the Duchess of Cambridge were all spotted rocking tanzanite jewelry.  It might be the latter that made tanzanite #2 most popular gem in the UK and #1 most popular in Wales according to the polls.  In other words – sapphire who?

Duchess of Cambridge wearing tanzanite earrings

Duchess of Cambridge wearing tanzanite earrings and necklace set

Closing Thoughts

What else is to be said of tanzanite – the only gem discovery of the past century? Again, that word. Only. You can’t avoid it when talking about tanzanite. Tanzanite is the “only” in many categories. It is practically its synonym.

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Until next time,



Hi! I am Ileana Djujic, a jewelry designer, blogger, and founder of Foxy Pearl Jewelry. We create distinctive timeless jewelry and inform on various industry topics. Apart from jewelry, I am equally passionate about traveling, music, books, reading, writing, running, and chocolate. Thanks for stopping by and connecting with us.
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