Totally Tanzanite

November 18, 2018

Ah, December. It’s cold downtown Minneapolis during December, but we’re glad for our free and secure valet parking. We’ll even brew you a cup or coffee while you shop.

We’re still a week away from Christmas, so we’re gonna talk about the birthstones of December. Colloquially, there are three: zircon, turquoise, and tanzanite. All are beautiful and equally fitting for a December birthday. We’ll focus on tanzanite today and leave the others for a future post.

Tanzanite is only found in one specific place: the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. When a member of the local Masai tribe, Ali Juuyawatu unearthed a crystal he knew wasn’t commonplace, he called in the experts. Gemologists at Tiffany & Co. in New York dubbed the new gem tanzanite in honor of the country where it is found. Even though the stone wasn’t discovered until 1967, marketing of the stone by Tiffany & Co. in the following years made it rival the ‘big three’ (sapphire, emerald, and ruby) in popularity.

While most gems are prized for having a single intense color, tanzanite is not. When you tilt tanzanite, three distinct colors can be seen. This color sharing phenomenon, known as being pleochroic, produces violet, blue, and purple hues in tanzanite. Other gems that are pleochroic include peridot, topaz, and aquamarine.

Tanzanite is a softer stone, with a rating of 6.5 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. Because of its softness, it is not the best candidate for being worn every day. However, when worn in earrings or a pendant, tanzanite can be in regular rotation of your jewelry wardrobe.

Because of the pleochroic nature of tanzanite, it looks equally stunning in yellow and white metals. Due to its discovery right in the middle of the 20th Century, we don’t see many vintage examples. We do, however, have this beautiful preowned cuff bracelet made from 18kt yellow gold. In the center, this bracelet features a beautiful oval cut tanzanite set in a half-bezel mounting. Set among a portion of textured gold are five brilliant diamonds that give this bracelet that extra panache.

For a more modern look, we also have this oval shaped tanzanite pendant. The 18kt white gold full bezel mounting gives this pendant a very sleek look. Attached to a matching 18kt white gold necklace, this pendant is the perfect foundation to a whole tanzanite suite…

Tanzanite is a rare and beautiful stone. Because of its relative newness to the trade, it may not be the most traditional December birthstone. But to see one in person is to experience why it is the best choice: its color change nature is sure to captivate all who see it.

To make an appointment to see our selection of tanzanite, and to take advantage of our extended holiday hours, click here.