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Unlike many stones found in various regions around the world, tanzanite is found solely in Tanzania. Having only been discovered in the latter of the 1960's, tanzanite rapidly grew in popularity with the help of Tiffany & Co. because of their introduction of the stone to the general public just before 1970. In fact, its original name was, "blue zoisite" but was changed to tanzanite by the company, eventually leading to tanzanite being charmingly referred to as the "gemstone of the 20th Century."

It is said that after lying undiscovered for centuries in the deposits of rock in the surrounding area, tanzanite was discovered by a group of the semi-nomadic Masai people in the plains of Mount Kilimanjaro. This eventually led interested parties to the site and introduced the crystals that Tiffany & Co. would later make famous.

With much controversy in the last century surrounding exports from the African region, especially diamonds, many buyers will be happy to know the vast majority of the dealers are licensed through the International Colored Gemstone Association. Therefore, they are bound to strict ethical practices within their trade and forbidden from dealing stones and gems linked to unethical practices and dubious behavior.

Renown worldwide for its brilliant range of blues, this gem also contains a hint of purple and red, contributing to the range of blue, for which the stone is known. This tri-color containment is what is referred to as "pleochroic". The stones after undergoing cuts and minimal treatments produce a spectrum that begins with soft periwinkle and ends with the deepest ocean blue imaginable. To the naked eye it is easy to confuse the latter aforementioned with that of a sapphire but upon closer inspection, you will notice the gorgeous purple tinge when held in the proper light. Some stones in their natural state hold a yellow-brown hue but when heated at about 500 Fahrenheit, the stones transform into one of tanzanite's reputable shades of blue. Cut and weight are additional determinants of color, with lighter weight and smaller cuts being lighter in color and achieving the periwinkle hue mentioned earlier and heavier, larger cuts boasting the richest blues.

A notably soft consistency, resting at 6.5 on the Mohs scale, makes this stone a little more difficult to work with than a jeweler would hope. Despite this, jewelers have been able to create gorgeous and precise cuts with a gentle hand and a bit of finesse, thus transforming crystals into beautiful round, square and emerald, though cushion and oval cuts are most abundant, as the center stones for pendants, rings, etc. Buyer and wearer should also note with the stone being as soft as it is, it should never be placed in an ultrasonic bath nor be cleaned with any sort of chemical. The best practice recommended for cleaning is warm soapy water and a soft brush. Also consider a protective setting to allow for longevity of the delicate stone while considering those with the least amount of inclusions as possible. Taking all these aspects into account should help with keeping that new addition in the collection as long as possible.

Did you like this? Read Lost in Traquility.

Since 1979, Bellevue Rare Coins has been a trusted, family-owned business serving the Greater Seattle Area with locations in Bellevue, Lynnwood, and West Seattle. Specializing in gold, silver, diamond, and jewelry purchasing, in addition to dealing in rare coins. We now offer a vast selection of fine, vintage and custom designed jewelry. Visit anyone of our three friendly locations for the best deals selling or buying.

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