Tanzanite, is found in just one place on earth, in northern Tanzania, not far from the watchful eye of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Tiffany & Co named this blue-violet variety of zoisite in honor of Tanzania, where it was first discovered in 1967. Because the crystals show different colors depending on the viewing direction, cutters can fashion gems with a range of color from violet blue to bluish violet depending on how much weight they want to retain from the rough. The story of the first tanzanite discovery goes like this. A Masai tribesman stumbled upon a cluster of highly transparent, intense violet-to-blue crystals weathering out of the earth in Merelani, an area of northern Tanzania. He alerted a local fortune hunter named Manuel d’Souza, who quickly registered four mining claims.
D’Souza hoped that he’d been shown a new sapphire deposit. Instead, the deposit contained one of the newest of the world’s gems.
Watch This Video And Join Me On Location At An Active Tanzanite Mine.
The mining area in the video is closely guarded, with fences and a guard station. Once inside, the mining operations mostly look quite similar with a basic structure covering the mining shafts which are dug straight down in search of the elusive tanzanite mineral. I climbed around 1000 ft, down on a wooden ladder. At one point we were able to see the natural folds in the rock, containing the quartz rock, in which the tanzanite is found. As the miners dig, they bring up the rock in metal barrels such as the one in the video. Look at the example of a tanzanite rough. The material generally comes out a brownish green color and must be heated to change its color to a vibrant blue-violet. Finally after purchasing the gemstone materials we hand over our gems to our own team of world class gemstone artists who turn each piece into a sparkling gem.