What Is The Precious Blue Stone From Africa?

By | May 14, 2024

Imagine strolling down the vibrant streets of an African market. Your eyes catch a glimmering blue stone that seems to shine with its own inner light, immediately captivating your attention. This remarkable gem is the prized blue jewel from Africa, rich in history, beauty, and intrigue. It’s a piece of the earth imbued with the essence of this continent’s breathtaking landscapes, vivid culture, and unyielding spirit. This article aims to unravel the mysteries behind this azure treasure. How did it originate? What gives it its mesmerizing hue? What cultural significance does it hold? You’re about to embark on an enticing journey of discovery as you explore the story of Africa’s stunning blue gemstone.

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1. Understanding Gemstones

When it comes to natural beauty, few things can match the enigmatic allure of gemstones. Whether adorned on a piece of jewelry or displayed as a captivating specimen in a collection, these precious and semi-precious stones have the spellbinding ability to captivate our senses.

Definition of gemstones

Gemstones are naturally occurring minerals that are valued for their stunning beauty and rarity. They are typically cut and polished to be used in jewelry or as decorative pieces. Gemstones possess inherent aesthetic qualities, such as color, luster, and brilliance, which make them highly desirable.

Characteristics of gemstones

The characteristics of gemstones can boil down to their color, clarity, cut, and carat – commonly known as the four Cs. Color refers to the hue of the gemstone, while clarity looks at the stone’s transparency and the presence of internal or surface flaws (inclusions or blemishes). The cut of a gemstone involves shaping the mineral into specific forms to maximize its brilliance and beauty. Carat refers to the weight and size of the stone, with one carat being equivalent to 200 milligrams.

Different types of gemstones

There are several different types of gemstones, each with their unique allure and charm. These include diamonds, which are renowned for their brilliance and hardness; rubies, which are known for their fiery red color; emeralds, known for their enchanting green hue; and sapphires, which come in all colors except red. Other notable types of gemstones include pearls, amethyst, opal, topaz, and turquoise.

2. Origin of Gemstones in Africa

Africa, a continent known for its diverse natural resources, is exceptionally rich in gemstones. It plays a significant role in the global market, with some of the world’s most beautiful and rare gems originating here.

Overview of Africa’s gemstone resources

Africa boasts a plethora of gemstone varieties, including some of the world’s most sought-after stones. The continent is known for its diamonds, sourced primarily from Botswana, South Africa, and Namibia. However, Africa’s gemstone bounty extends beyond diamonds. It is home to rubies, emeralds, and sapphires, as well as semi-precious stones like amethyst and aquamarine.

Major regions for gemstone mining in Africa

There are several key regions for gemstone mining in Africa. For instance, South Africa is renowned for diamonds, while Kenya is notable for its favorite garnets. Other countries, including Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique, are rich in various gem types.

What Is The Precious Blue Stone From Africa?


3. What is the Precious Blue Stone from Africa?

When you think of precious blue stones from Africa, tanzanite is the first gem that comes to mind. Named after its country of origin, Tanzania, this gemstone is known for its stunning color that ranges from deep blue to violet.

Identity of the precious blue stone – Tanzanite

Discovered relatively recently in 1967, tanzanite is a variety of the mineral zoisite. Though zoisite occurs in a range of colors, tanzanite exhibits a breathtakingly beautiful shade of blue. Its alluring color has made it a coveted gemstone, enjoying popularity among jewelry lovers worldwide.

Discovery of Tanzanite

A Masai tribesman named Ali Juuyawatu discovered tanzanite in the Mererani Hills of Northern Tanzania near Mount Kilimanjaro. The discovery of these vibrant blue crystals quickly caught the attention of gemstone enthusiasts, creating a demand that remains strong to this day.

Unique features of Tanzanite

Tanzanite possesses a unique ability to display different colors, a phenomenon known as pleochroism. Depending on the crystal orientation, tanzanite can appear blue, violet, or burgundy. This attribute, coupled with its rich colors and rarity, significantly contributes to its attraction.

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4. Properties of Tanzanite

Tanzanite has a unique set of physical and chemical properties that sets it apart from other gemstones and contributes to its desirability and value.

Physical properties of Tanzanite

Physically, tanzanite is a relatively soft and fragile gemstone, with a hardness of 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs hardness scale. It has a vitreous luster and can show strong trichroism, which means it can exhibit three different colors based on the direction in which it is viewed.

Chemical properties of Tanzanite

Chemically, tanzanite is a calcium aluminum silicate. Its beautiful color is the result of small amounts of vanadium ions within its crystal structure. When heated, these ions cause the gemstone to change color from a more traditional brownish hue to the magnificent blue-violet shade that is so coveted today.

What Is The Precious Blue Stone From Africa?

5. Mining of Tanzanite

When it comes to tanzanite mining, the operations are concentrated in a small area in Tanzania, unlike other gemstones which are mined in various regions across the globe.

Major Tanzanite mines in Africa

Known collectively as the Mererani Tanzanite mining area, it essentially forms the only source of tanzanite. The area, divided into four blocks (A to D), is about 8.1 square kilometers and lies to the east of the town of Arusha.

Mining process of Tanzanite

To mine tanzanite, miners drill holes into the rocks to place explosives, which then break the rocks upon detonation. Afterward, the broken rocks are carefully sorted for any gemstones, which are then carefully cleaned, graded, and cut before going on to the market.

6. The Value of Tanzanite

Given its scarcity and beauty, tanzanite is highly valued. It holds a special place in the gemstone market, appreciated not just for its aesthetic appeal but also for its investment potential.

Factors influencing the value of Tanzanite

Like other gemstones, factors such as color, clarity, cut, and carat determine the value of tanzanite. However, due to its single geographical source and the resulting supply-demand dynamic, its scarcity also plays a substantial role in its pricing.

Tanzanite in the international gemstone market

Despite being a relatively newer gemstone, Tanzanite has made a significant impact on the global gemstone market. It has become one of the top ten best-selling colored gemstones and continues to enjoy high demand, especially in the United States.

Future Prospects for Tanzanite

While no one can predict the future, tanzanite’s prospects look promising due to its increasing demand, limited supply, and unique appeal. As it becomes more mainstream, its market value is expected to increase.

What Is The Precious Blue Stone From Africa?

7. Applications of Tanzanite

Tanzanite isn’t just a gemstone for adornment; it also has spiritual and healing properties associated with it.

Use of Tanzanite in the jewelry industry

Despite its low hardness, tanzanite’s stunning color and uniqueness have positioned it as a popular stone in the jewelry industry. You’ll find it in engagement rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. Some even prefer it over the traditional diamond for its distinctive blue-violet hue.

Spiritual and healing properties of Tanzanite

As with many gemstones, tanzanite is believed to hold spiritual significance. Many people believe that it encourages communication and spiritual exploration. It’s also claimed to have calming properties that help reduce stress and anxiety.

8. Conservation and Sustainability of Tanzanite Mining

Like other mining activities, the mining of tanzanite can have potential negative environmental impacts. However, initiatives to make the industry more sustainable and ethical are in place.

Environmental impacts of Tanzanite mining

The exploration and extraction of tanzanite can lead to land degradation and loss of biodiversity. Additionally, it can cause water and soil pollution from the chemicals and waste materials involved in the mining process.

Efforts to make Tanzanite mining sustainable and ethical

In recent years, efforts have been taken to make tanzanite mining sustainable and ethical. This includes ensuring fair wages for miners, reducing environmental degradation, and preventing conflict and illegal trading. The Tanzanite Foundation, for instance, works towards the ethical sourcing of Tanzanite and the betterment of the local community involved in its mining.

What Is The Precious Blue Stone From Africa?

9. Buying Tanzanite

If you’re interested in owning a piece of this magnificent gemstone, some considerations are necessary before making a purchase.

What to consider when buying Tanzanite

The most important factors to consider when buying tanzanite are the four Cs we discussed earlier – color, clarity, cut, and carat. Additionally, consider the gemstone’s origin and treatment status. Natural untreated Tanzanite is the most valuable.

How to care for Tanzanite jewelry

Tanzanite is sensitive to sudden temperature changes and impact, so handle it with care. To clean your Tanzanite, use warm soapy water and a soft brush. Avoid exposure to harsh chemicals or heat, and always store tanzanite jewelry separately to avoid scratches.

10. Tanzanite in Popular Culture

Tanzanite has also found its way into popular culture, thanks to its mesmerizing colors and rarity.

Famous personalities associated with Tanzanite

Several famous personalities have been spotted wearing Tanzanite, including Beyoncé, Cate Blanchett, and Penelope Cruz. These celebrities’ preference for Tanzanite has played a significant role in promoting the stone’s popularity.

Tanzanite in film and literature

Tanzanite has been featured in several films and works of literature. A prominent example includes the James Bond film, “Die Another Day“, where the gemstone was used to signify the villain’s wealth. In literature, several novels mention the stone, contributing to its mystical allure.

The precious blue stone from Africa – Tanzanite, with its enchanting hues and singular origin, continues to captivate the world with its charm. From its discovery to its role in the jewelry industry and popular culture, the fascination with this gemstone endures – appropriately reflecting the timeless beauty it possesses.

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Author: marklsmithms1

Hi, I'm Mark, the author of Maura Gems and Jewellery. As a team of qualified gemmologists and goldsmiths, we bring you world-class jewellery at Bangkok prices. With offices in both Bangkok and the UK, we ethically source the finest gemstones directly, eliminating any middlemen. We offer a wide range of stunning ready-made jewellery items in our new online store, available for retail or wholesale. Additionally, we specialize in custom-made jewellery where we can bring any design to life. Whether you're a trade professional or an individual customer, we cater to all. Feel free to email me at mark@mauragemsandjewellery.com or call/WhatsApp me at 07470547636 or +66949355718. Discover our incredible collection by visiting our online store. I guarantee you'll love what you find there!

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