All gemstones have their own character and charm. The scintillation of diamonds gives them their famous sparkle, the opalescence of opals creates the shifting inner fire that they are known for and the remarkable phenomenon of asterism creates the otherworldly pattern of the star sapphire and ruby. Tanzanite, a relatively recent discovery, is so desirable because its colour is affected by a condition known as dichroism or trichroism.
Dichromatic gemstones exhibit two separate colours depending on the lighting conditions. Alexandrite is probably the most famous example of this, showing green or yellow in daylight and red in incandescent light. Tanzanite is rare because of its trichromism, which allows it to shift between a deep, sapphire-like blue, a vibrant royal purple and a stark burgundy depending on how it is viewed.
Where does Tanzanite Come from?
Some gemstones are present on every continent on earth, while others are limited to a handful of known deposits. Tanzanite is unique in that it is only found in one region on the face of the earth – the Arusha region of the African nation Tanzania. All of the tanzanite that has ever been discovered comes from a single, narrow deposit in this region.
The stone was identified as “blue zoisite” by the Gemological Institute of America, but it was the corporation Tiffany & Co. who gave it the much less cumbersome name Tanzanite after the nation where it could be found. The company’s original advertising stated that Tanzanite could be found in two places: “In Tanzania and at Tiffany’s”.
With a hardness of 6.5 on the moh’s scale Tanzanite is around the same hardness as quartz, whose various forms are arguably the most common in all jewellery. This means that the stone is both durable enough to withstand wear and soft enough to cut and facet without requiring the heavier equipment required to work diamond or corundum (ruby and sapphire).
Tanzanite rings are the perfect way to showcase the stone, as the constant movement of the wearer’s hands allow the stone to shift in the light and demonstrate its remarkable colour shift.
The stone suits silver precious metals, and is often set into galleries and shanks formed from high-carat white gold or platinum. It is often paired with diamonds, either forming a halo around the central tanzanite or with a pair on either side to form a trilogy ring. The diamonds’ brighten the piece, refracting light and sending it out in a multitude of directions, which creates a better play of light across the central stone. It suits Edwardian style settings with open backed galleries and few claws to allow the flow of light through the piece, although it can be set into more enclosed arrangements if a skilled enough lapidary creates the stone’s cut to complement it.
You can view our full collection of vintage and contemporary tanzanite rings here.
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