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Tanzanite

Dec 3rd, 2012

Tanzanite

During the month of December, American Gem Society members celebrate 3 birthstones tanzanite, zircon & turquoise. We’ll kick off the month with tanzanite.

Discovered in the late 1960s in Tanzania, and found exclusively in this tiny area of the world, tanzanite exhibits a rich violet-blue color for which the gemstone is treasured; often it is heat-treated to achieve this color.  Colors range from blue to purple, and tanzanites that are medium dark in tone, vivid in saturation, and slightly violet blue command premium prices.

As tanzanite can be less expensive than sapphire, it often was purchased as an alternative.  However, it has increased in popularity and now is valued more for its own beauty and brilliance than as a sapphire substitute.

 There is no universally accepted method of grading colored gemstones. TanzaniteOne, a major commercial player in the tanzanite market, through its no-profit subsidiary, The Tanzanite Foundation, has introduced its own color-grading system. The new system’s color-grading scales divide tanzanite colors into a range of hues, between blue violet and violet blue.

The normal primary and secondary hues in tanzanite are blue and purple, not violet. Purple is a modified spectral hue that lies halfway between red and blue. Tanzanite is a trichroic gemstone, meaning that light that enters the stone is divided into three sections, each containing a portion of the visible spectrum. After heating, tanzanite becomes dichroic. The dichroic colors are purple and blue. The hue range of tanzanite is blue-purple to purple-blue.

Clarity grading in colored gemstones is based on the eye-clean standard, that is, a gem is considered flawless if no inclusions are visible with the unaided eye (assuming 20/20 vision).

 The Gemological Institute of America classifies tanzanite as a Type I gemstone, meaning it is normally eye-flawless. Gems with eye-visible inclusions will be traded at deep discounts.

Sources:

American Gem Society

Wikipedia

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