Congratulations, Tanzanite... You've Been Named the New December Birthstone
The birthstone list, like the United States Constitution, is rarely amended. However, such is the enthusiasm for one gem - velvet blue tanzanite - among both jewelers and the public alike, that it was recently added to this exclusive group. Tanzanite has joined zicon and turquoise as the commemorative gems for December birthdays.
Tanzanite, a relative newcomer to the jewelry world, was discovered by Masai tribesmen in the remote hills near Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in the 1960s. The president of Tiffany & Co. was among the first in the jewelry industry to see the new gem and he immediately fell in love with it. He gave it the "stage name" tanzanite to replace its gemological name, blue zoisite, and by incorporating the new gem in some of Tiffany's most important creations, he introduced it to jewelry and gem aficionados throughout the world.
Tanzanite's appeal is attributable to two factors: its rarity and its beauty. It is one of the few gems that has only one source; tanzanite has never been found outside Tanzania, where it was first sighted four decades ago.
The gem's color is spectacular. It is most often gold or brownish when mined, but it is generally heated to blue when cut. The resulting hue can range from lavender to midnight blue, but the most prized color is a deep, luxurious blue with purple overtones. The gem also exhibits an unusual gemological property called pleochroism, which means it can display more than one color. When viewed from different angles, a tanzanite ring or pendant may show flashes of various shades of blue and purple. That tanzanite's hue may also alter in daylight and incandescent light is still another lovely gemological miracle that adds to the allure of this unique gem.
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