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The Heating of Tanzanite

Posted on March 25th, 2012 in Blog by || No Comment

There is a gemstone that can be found in only one place. This gem is called tanzanite, and it is located in the African nation of Tanzania. It known as one of the rarest, most beautiful gems in the world. Because tanzanite is only exported exclusively from one place, the supply could run out soon, and many people have bought the gem so that they can own it before the supply runs out, when its worth will increase. The fascinating thing about tanzanite that most people do not realize is that its natural color is not the beautiful blue-violet color they love; it is naturally colored in browns, reds, or greens. This is because it is from the zoisite family, and the zoisite is a brown-colored mineral, so many tanzanite gems start out with a brownish color. What happens to make the gem turn from this unappealing color to the vivacious bluish color we see when it is sold in stores, is that it is refined by flame to bring out its beautiful blue hue. It is similar to cutting the rough edges of a diamond, but the only difference is that tanzanite (and all zoisite minerals) are very fragile and have soft stones, so they are susceptible to falling apart easier than other gemstones.

The tanzanite gemstone is treated by heat to a temperature of 550 to 700 degrees Celsius in a gemological oven, and the heat is the thing that draws out the purple-blue/blue-purple color that is seen on the market. There are a variety of tinges and shades within these two hues that tanzanite comes in (after being heat-treated), and the blue gem can turn out to have a little red, green, or grey tinge to it. Furthermore, it can come in either a very transparent or a rich, deep color. The heating process brings out the specific color found in that one particular tanzanite, and that tanzanite can be either a light shade, a medium shade, or a dark shade of blue and/or violet. The heating treatment works in an interesting way:  The natural-colored tanzanite is placed on a kiln (oven) tray, and the tanzanite pieces need to be separated about an inch away from each other and the edges of the tray; the smaller gems are easier to heat than the large pieces. Then, once this is done, the tray is placed in the center of the oven, and the temperature can first be set at a lower level, such as 850 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the oven is heated at this temperature, the temperature then is raised 10 to 15 notches higher to about 930 degrees. The gems are heated for an hour, and if the color has not changed from its unattractive brown to the beautiful blue-purple color, it is placed in the oven again for another 2 to 4 hours. It takes time for the gem to change from its natural form to the one that people desire, but during this time of heating, it will change color for sure. Then the tanzanite will be cooled in a dark, cool place for 24 to 48 hours, and finally it will be ready to be set into jewelry.

Tanzanite is a unique gemstone and has lasting popularity as a result of many factors. First, it can only be found in the country of Tanzania, and this means there is a limited supply, which is why many people buy it—if the supply runs out, the price will rise. Moreover, it is not sold in its original color, but is heat-treated to become a blue-purple, and its vibrant color is a main reason people purchase the gem. In addition, it is one of the   softest and most fragile stones, and this only makes it twice as popular.

The Commercial History of Tanzanite

Posted on March 20th, 2012 in Blog by || No Comment

The gem called tanzanite is actually a variation of the mineral geologists and gemologists call “zoisite,” which was first discovered in 1805. This adaption of the zoisite gem, tanzanite, was not found until the late 1960s in Tanzania, Africa, the nation after which the gem is named. This particular gem can only be found in Tanzania and comes in an array of colors, including blue, pink, green, yellow, brown, and khaki, but many people will treat it with heat so that it will turn into the more popular shades of amethyst, sapphire blue, and blue-purple. When this form of zoisite was first discovered, it was not named “tanzanite” and was usually called “blue zoisite,” or even “blue suicide.” The first time it was named “tanzanite” was by Tiffany & Co., because it was rare and could only be found in Tanzania. Tiffany & Co. was the first company to have exclusive rights to sell the gem, but now any jewelry company can sell it. The tanzanite gem is one of the softest stones, and so necklaces, bracelets, and rings are usually inlaid with them, but because the stone is soft, people need to be careful when cleaning it because it might break.

The first time tanzanite was discovered was in 1967 near the city of Arusha (Tanzania), and Manuel De Souza was unsure as to what kind of gemstone it was. Next, it went through John Saul, his father Hyman Saul (vice president of Saks Fifth Avenue), the Gemological Institute of America, Harvard University, and the British Museum before it was correctly identified by an Ian McCloud. From 1967 until the present time, the gemstone has been exported and crafted into numerous jewelry styles, and all jewelry companies sell tanzanite gems inlaid into their work. In the year 2002, the tanzanite stone became one of the birthstones for the month of December, and the American Gem Trade Association listed it as an additional birthstone for the month (the other birthstones for the month of December include zircon and turquoise). A year after the stone had become a national birthstone (it would make more sales as a birthstone and become twice as popular), the nation of Tanzania placed a ban on exports of tanzanite into India. In 2003, the Tanzanian government saw an opportunity to increase their profits by making it illegal to import the stone unprocessed into India or other countries, but this ban only lasted for two years in total.

The tanzanite stone is said to have first been discovered by Masai cattle herders, who spotted a fire that was caused by lighting turning the stone from its unattractive brown and khaki color into the beautiful blue-purple it is known for today. Surprisingly, all blue stones are favored amongst the rest in jewelry fashion, and the blue-purple tinge of tanzanite makes it twice as popular. The stone’s popularity has only grown since it became one of the birthstones to buy for December, and many people buy more jewelry with their birthstone in it than without. Tanzanite varies from light blue-purple to a deep blue or purple, and all shades of this stone are very popular because they are all equally beautiful. Forming this gemstone into a necklace or earring set can be a difficult task for jewelers, since it is soft and will fall apart if not handled carefully. Thus, it is always prudent to bring tanzanite jewelry into a jeweler for cleaning.

Tanzanite Jewelry Facts

Posted on March 16th, 2012 in Blog by || No Comment

In the world of jewelry, there are many vibrant and rich colors of gems in the world, but it widely known among experts that the more popular gems are those with blue or purple colors. The tanzanite gem is a blue-purple/purple-blue stone that was discovered in 1967 in the country of Tanzania, and was originally called “blue zoisite” (or “blue suicide”) because it is from the zoisite mineral family. The first jeweler to sell the tanzanite gem was Tiffany & Co., and they were the ones who changed it to that name because this rare gem can only be found in Tanzania. When it comes to jewelry of any kind, from earrings and rings to necklaces, there are so many pieces from which to choose. Not only are you looking for the right stone (type, kind, and color), but you are also looking for the right frame in which to inlay the gem, such as gold, silver, platinum, or white gold. The possibilities are endless, and the number of choices can be staggering.

We stock many shapes of tanzanite stones to choose from, and like most jewelers, they have a specific price associated with one carat; for U.S. buyers, the price per carat is $473.40. There are two heart-shaped tanzanite stones that are perfect for a pair of earrings, and they have a strong blue/violet coloring. Those are priced at $9,560.00 (the carat weight is 19.12). A popular item that many people place in a pendant or necklace is just the plain round tanzanite stone, which is priced at $3,015.00 (the carat weight or CW is 6.35), but the price for a round tanzanite gemstone will vary because of the carat weight—the average range is from $695.00 (CW: 1.56) to $8,475.00 (CW: 16.95). Other popular shapes available for purchase are the square and the rectangle, and a double stone set for earrings, which are shaped as squares, is priced at $8,875.00 (carat weight: 17.75). The tanzanite price for a stone shaped as a square or rectangle ranges from $720.00 (CW: 1.60) to $4,300.00 (CW: 10.15). For a carat weight of .00 to .49 the pale-shaded tanzanite stone is worth $50 per carat; the light is $70, moderate is $100, intense is $170, vivid is $200, and the exceptional quality is worth $240 per carat. The quality-based value of a tanzanite gem that has a carat weight of 1.25 to 1.99 is $150 for the pale, $200 for the light, $300 for moderate, $425 for intense, $525 for vivid, and $600 per carat for the exceptional tanzanite quality. The value for tanzanite stones that have a carat weight of 3.00 and up is $275 (per carat) for the pale shade, $325 for light, $450 for moderate, $600 for intense, $700 for vivid, and $775 for the exceptional-quality tanzanite.

When you have purchased a tanzanite gemstone, whether in a necklace, earrings, rings, or bracelets, it is crucial that you know how to care for the gem properly. Because tanzanite is a soft stone and can break apart easily if handled incorrectly, learning how to clean your tanzanite jewelry is a must. First, fill a container with room-temperature water, because if the container has water that is either too cold or too hot, it will crack the gemstone. Then put a few drops of dishwashing liquid into the container, and place the tanzanite carefully into the container, making sure that the gem does not touch the side of the container. Next, scrub the gem very gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush, and make sure to use the softest brush possible so as not to scratch the gem. Lastly, rinse with room temperature water and dry with a soft cloth. Enjoy your amazing tanzanite gem, the envy of the jewelry world!

Tanzanite Grading Factors

Posted on March 14th, 2012 in Blog by || No Comment

There is one gemstone that has become overwhelmingly popular in the last couple of years, and that is the tanzanite gem. It was first discovered in 1967 in the country of Tanzania, but it was not called “tanzanite” until later; previously, it was more commonly known as “blue zoisite.” This rare gem can only be found in the country of Tanzania (Africa), and this may affect how long it will be around because it is only processed from one country. The fact that this particular stone may not be around much longer has made it twice as popular, and many people have tried to purchase at least one piece of tanzanite jewelry. When it comes to grading the quality of the tanzanite gemstone, many people trust the process that is facilitated by the Gemological Institute of America, and their grading system is the most popular. Surprisingly, the tanzanite gem is graded by color more than any other standard, which is due to the various colors it holds, as the natural stone can come in any color from brown and khaki to blue or violet. The brown-colored gem is usually treated with heat so that it will become the blue-violet color that everyone covets so much.

 

The color-grading system used by the Gemological Institute of America might sound foreign and can often use such terms as “AAA tanzanite” and other high-tech phrases. However, the concept is actually quite simple. This precious gemstone is one of the most vivacious gems in the world, and it has an array of vibrant colors from light to dark, blue to grey; this is what makes it so popular. The many different shades are also what makes the gemstone so easy to grade, even though there are a few factors that affect the grading of tanzanite. The first thing that is factored in is the hue (or color) of the tanzanite, and the hue is just the basic color of the gem, which is violet-blue or blue-violet. Then comes the grading of the tone or saturation, which basically means that the stone is graded on the strength of its hue on a scale of 0 to 6. If the gem is 0, this means the gem is colorless or white; 1 signifies extremely light; 2 signifies very light; 3 is light; 4 signifies medium light; 5 equals medium; and 6 is medium dark to deep dark. The tanzanite gems can also have various tinges to them on top of the violet-blue or blue-violet, and these include red, brown, blue, green, and grey. A good example of the grading system is VB6, which means a strong, vivid violet-blue that is of the deepest color.

 

All gemstones are also graded on what is called the 4 C’s: color, clarity, cut, and carat. The color of the tanzanite stone affects the cost of the gem, and the darker the color, the costlier the price. The clarity of the tanzanite also affects the price, because the clearer the gem, the more valuable it is. Next, there is the cut of the gem, as the stone can be cut into any shape or size, and if the stone is larger, it will cost more than if it is smaller. Lastly, the number of carats in the tanzanite affects the value, which ranges from 1 to 10 carats, and anything 1 carat (or less) will cost $300, while if the gem is 5 carats, it will price from $500 to $800; a 159.41-carat tanzanite gem will cost $127,525.00 (and anything larger than this will be quite expensive). The price for the rare and beautiful stone called “tanzanite” will vary according to size, carat, cut, color, and clarity.

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