Fei Liu bespoke tanzanite ring in white gold with diamonds. Photo credit : Fei Liu

History Of Tanzanite

Tanzanite’s 50th Anniversary

2017 : CELEBRATING HALF A CENTURY OF BEAUTY

This year, the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of one of Earth’s most rare and precious gems – tanzanite. Despite being as old as the entire animal kingdom, this striking gem was discovered a mere half-century ago in 1967, and instantly won the hearts of gem lovers worldwide. Join us on a journey through tanzanite’s history as we celebrate the jubilee of “the most beautiful blue gemstone discovered in over 2,000 years.”

 

Tanzanite Timeline

585 MILLION YEARS AGO

BORN OF FIRE
It was more than 585 million years ago, near the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, that Mother Nature yielded this precious gem. The world’s only tanzanite deposit was created by massive tectonic plate activity and intense heat in the area that would later become Mount Kilimanjaro. The conditions involved in tanzanite‘s formation saw the random incorporation of the vanadium (the chemical responsible for tanzanite’s blue and violet color palette), in an event so unique it is often described as a geological phenomenon.
1967

DISCOVERED IN TANZANIA
As testament to its rarity, tanzanite remained unknown until 1967, when a Maasai tribesman called Ali Juuyawatu discovered a cluster or blue crystals, and alerted a local prospector named Manuel d’Souza. At first it was thought the stones were unusually vibrant sapphires, but the newfound gemstones’ complex composition and brilliant coloration soon revealed the momentous fact: an entirely new gemstone had been discovered.
DISCOVERED IN TANZANIA
As testament to its rarity, tanzanite remained unknown until 1967, when a Maasai tribesman called Ali Juuyawatu discovered a cluster or blue crystals, and alerted a local prospector named Manuel d’Souza. At first it was thought the stones were unusually vibrant sapphires, but the newfound gemstones’ complex composition and brilliant coloration soon revealed the momentous fact: an entirely new gemstone had been discovered. Image Credit: © Sergey Pesterev
1968

CHRISTENED ‘TANZANITE’ BY TIFFANY & CO.
New York’s celebrated jewelers Tiffany & Co. heard about the new precious stone discovery in Tanzania and were the first to bring this dazzling gemstone to the world. They christened the new find ‘tanzanite’ after its country of origin. At Tanzanite‘s official launch in October 1968, Henry B. Platt (great-grandson of Louis Comfort Tiffany and later President and Chairman of Tiffany & Co.) remarked that tanzanite “was the most beautiful blue gemstone discovered in over 2,000 years.” Tiffany’s advertising proudly stated that tanzanite could be found in only two places in the world: “in Tanzania and at Tiffany’s.”
2002

TANZANITE IS NAMED THE DECEMBER BIRTHSTONE
Tanzanite quickly rose to popularity, becoming the world’s second most beloved blue gem, surpassed only by sapphire. In 2002, tanzanite joined turquoise and zircon as the accepted birthstones for December. This was no small feat, as this was one of the only updates this list has seen since its creation in 1912, and demonstrated that the newcomer tanzanite, was now very much on an equal standing with other, "older" gemstones. Interestingly, tanzanite has since become associated with new life in general, and is currently a favorite gemstone to gift to mothers to celebrate the birth of a new baby – “the birthstone” – independent of the month.