The Stone That Is More Precious Than a Diamond

Joint project of St.-Petersburg Mining museum and Forpost Nord-West.
Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

It is forecasted that the price on this stone will only go up. As of today, it has already entered the top five best selling minerals. This gem was shot in one of the most popular box office movies of the XX century and was adopted as a hallmark of the world’s oldest jewellery brand. The semi-precious stone, which is a thousand times rarer than a diamond, is called tanzanite.

The fortune of this stone resembles, in a way, a story of Cinderella. It was found in a poor African country, Tanzania. However, for a very very long time no one had been interested in it. The original discovery of tanzanite belongs to the shepherds of one of the Maasai tribes who happened to find it at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. One of the samples of over 10,000 carats by chance came into the hands of geologists who were ensuring supplies of rubies to Europe. At first, they thought the find was nothing but the ordinary glass. Later, it came clear that the stone of crimson colour was in fact a discovery of a brand new semi-precious stone.

Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

This discovery would not have received wide publicity if it had not been for the New York jewellery retailer Tiffany, but through well thought-out PR and marketing activities, tanzanite gained the hearts of last century’s fashion lovers. Jewel items with this stone were dominating the covers of fashion magazines, even outshining diamonds jewels. Finally, an amazingly beautiful blue-coloured tanzanite got into the hearts of all ladies after being featured in ’Titanic', an epic romance and disaster film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The stone itself played a role in this movie - a role of a diamond. The heart-shaped pendant was on the neck of the main character, Rose DeWitt Bukater, portrayed by Kate Winslet. Neither a diamond nor a blue sapphire had the right colour or lustre. It was only tanzanite that passed an acting audition.

© Общественное достояние

Originally, the stone had another name. Tanzanite is, as a matter of fact, a variety of a bleak stone of brown colour, named zoisite. However, the spelling of this word is very much similar to the spelling of the word ’suicide’, which would hardly encourage people to buy this gem. Therefore, the stone was renamed - in the honour of the place where it was found, the United Republic of Tanzania. The mineral had become the best selling gem in the world by the end of the nineties. In the XXI century, it still maintains a leading position, but now a bit behind the sapphire.

The Maasai people have a tradition of gifting a blue gem to the women after giving a birth to a child. This tradition still remains intact, as the Maasai believe the stone positively affects its owner’s health, brings happiness into the families and supports well-being.

As tanzanite is found only in a limited area extending to four kilometres, it is generally considered an extremely rare mineral. The chances of finding it in some other location are pretty slim, decaying to zero. Besides, tanzanite reserves will last for the next ten years at most.

Фото ©

High professionalism is required to not to break the stone into pieces. Tanzanite is quite a fragile mineral, one inaccurate movement is enough for the stone’s sample to fall apart into thousands of fragments. The blueish specimens - among the others - of tanzanite are the most valuable. Purchasing a jewel item with tanzanite has become a reasonable and well-timed investment in the future. Tanzanite jewellery is nowadays a part of the family heritage, it is a family heirloom. To determine whether a stone is a fake or not, one should have a look at the mineral from different angles. If the stone is real, its colour should vary from dark-purple to bright-blue. This life-hack is very recommended to those who are planning to buy tanzanite items.