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The Story of Discovery
Tanzania boasts a rich and sophisticated folklore. After Tanzanite’s discovery, local Maasai people began weaving stories around of the origins of this extraordinary stone. Legend has it, the land was set ablaze by a bolt of lightning. The heat from this ‘magic fire in the sky’ transformed crystals on the ground into shimmering blue-violet stones. When the last cinders dissolved into the earth and the thick smoke settled, awestruck Maasai tribesmen filled their pouches with these mystical stones, believing the jewels would bring them a better life.
1967 – Discovered in Tanzania
It was the Maasai tribesman Ali Juuyawatu who first shared his blue-violet crystal find with Manuel de Souza, a tailor by profession and prospector by passion who happened to be in the region in search of Rubies. At first it was thought the stones were unusually vibrant Sapphires, but it was soon confirmed that the new gemstones were more complex than a Sapphire, with a colour more alluring and exotic. Manuel de Souza had no idea that he’d encountered a gemstone the world had never seen... one that remained unnamed.
1968 – Christened ‘Tanzanite’ by Tiffany & Co.
The beauty of Tanzanite did not elude the savvy marketing of Henry B. Platt, great grandson of Louis Comfort Tiffany and later President and Chairman of New York’s Tiffany & Co. It was Platt who named the stone ‘Tanzanite’ and who introduced it to the world with great fanfare at Tiffany & Co in 1968.
2001 – Tanzanite is ranked 2nd favourite coloured gemstone in the USA after the Sapphire
Demand for tanzanite has rocketed in recent years, outstripping sales of all other colored gemstones, with the exception of sapphire. A thousand times rarer than diamonds and with a little over a decade of mine life remaining, tanzanite is the fashion gem of the millennium.
2002 – Tanzanite is named the December birthstone
In recognition of its popularity, in 2002 tanzanite was added to the jewelry industry’s official birthstone list. This saw tanzanite join turquoise and zircon as accepted birthstones for December. Not a small thing, especially when you consider this was the first time the list had been changed since 1912.