Celebrating 50 Years of Tanzanite!

This year the world celebrates 50 years of this exceptional gemstone. The ultimate blue gem and one of the world’s rarest. Find out how it was discovered, its journey through the years and why it is the world's rarest.

Nicky Thomas

Gemstone & Jewelry
Style & Trends Editor

  • This year the world celebrates 50 years of this exceptional gemstone.
    The ultimate blue gem and one of the world's rarest.

  • How befitting that such an exceptional gemstone should have such a dramatic story behind it…

     The Legend…

    Legend has it that the spectacular landscape below the towering heights of Mt. Kilimanjaro was set alight by lightning and the heat from this “magic fire” transformed the dull brown crystals on the surface into bright shards of violet/blue gems. The local Maasai tribesmen discovered these striking blue shards whilst walking through the smoke and ashes after the fire ebbed and have since believed that these magical stones will bring them an enriched life.

    Maasai Tribesmen Walking With Their Cattle.        


    Tanzanite formed 585 million years ago in a metamorphic event under Africa’s largest mountain, Mt. Kilimanjaro. Geological research has shown that Tanzanite’s geology is totally unique and only found within a very small area on the foothills of this spectacular mountain and the chances of it being discovered anywhere else is less than “one in a million”. This, combined with the likelihood of Tanzanite running out completely in the near future, all contributes to the stone’s appeal.

    1000 times rarer copy.jpg



    Discovered in the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro in the Merelani Hills in Northern Tanzania, in 1967 by Manuel d’Souza. A tailor and part-time gold prospector living the area, found fragments of violet/blue crystals whilst walking and assumed they were Olivine (Peridot). After testing them, he realized they weren’t and concluded they were “Dumortierite” a blue non-gem mineral.

     Merlani hills image JPEG.jpg

    It was John Saul a Nairobi based geologist, who later contested this theory and sent samples to his father, Hyman Saul, vice president of Saks Fifth Avenue in New York to take to the Gemological Institute of America for correct identification. They identified the samples as a new gem of the variety, Zoisite never seen before. 


    It wasn’t until Henry B. Platt, great grandson to Louis Comfort Tiffany, President and Chairman of Tiffany & Co. who christened Blue Zoisite to “Tanzanite” after the country it was discovered and declared it to be “the most important gemstone discovery in 2000 years.” With powerful marketing from Tiffany & Co. over the next decade, Tanzanite became the ultimate blue gemstone.

     Tiffany Co image JPEG.jpg

    Image Source: Tiffany & Co. 1969 


    In 2001 sales of Tanzanite soared, exceeding all other colored gemstones except Sapphire and it was ranked the second most favorite colored gemstone. The stone's beauty and mystery endeared it to consumers and people flocked to purchase it. Everyone wanted to own a piece of this extraordinary gemstone and be a part of its history. Tanzanite's star was truly in the ascendant.


    In recognition of its popularity, Tanzanite is added to the industry's official birthstone list.  A true honor, as this was the first addition to the Birthstone list since 1912. It joined Zircon and Turquoise as December's Birthstone. 

    As well as being named the birthstone for December, Tanzanite is the gemstone to purchase for your 24th Wedding Anniversary.

    We are celebrating 50 years in the life of Tanzanite, there will not be another 50.  

  • This beautiful and very rare gem will soon have to be inherited to be owned.

    Explore our Investment Tz Collection.jpg          Tanzanite-Jewelry.jpg 

Educated at the University of Exeter and a key part of our team here at The Rare Gemstone Company, Nicky has been fascinated by gemstones and jewelry since childhood. She explores all areas of the industry in her blog and revels in the proximity to gems and jewels that working at the source of some of the world’s most beautiful and rarest gemstones provides her.

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