One of the rarest and most beautiful gemstones, tanzanite is classic, beautiful and sometimes indistinguishable from blue sapphires. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering a tanzanite engagement ring.
How Rare is Tanzanite?
Stunning large tanzanite gemstone. See it here.
Tanzanite is a relatively new gemstone was only discovered in the 1960s. It was named after the country which it’s found in – Tanzania, which also happens to be the first and only place that tanzanite has so far been found in.
This is what makes tanzanite so rare, because it’s only found in one place – an area 2km long and 7km wide at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Experts believe that tanzanite is the result of the tectonic activity that created Mt. Kilimanjaro, which makes the possibility of finding another tanzanite mine very low.
As a result, tanzanite is called ‘the one generation gemstone’ because the primary sources of tanzanite are expected to run out by the next generation.
What is Tanzanite?
In terms of composition, tanzanite is made of the mineral zoisite (calcium aluminium hydroxyl sorosilicate) and belongs to the epidote group of zoisite. It gets its color from the presence of vanadium during its formation.
Tanzanite is known for its trichroism which refers to the stone’s ability to display three colors at once, depending on the angle at which it is viewed. These colors are burgundy, violet and blue. However, when the stone is heat treated, whether naturally or by humans, it becomes dichroic, displaying violet and blue hues.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Tanzanite?
Sunburst white gold tanzanite ring. See it here.
Now that we’ve had a look at the basic of tanzanite, let’s explore the pros and cons of a tanzanite engagement ring:
- Tanzanite is rare – We’ve already talked about this but it’s worth mentioning it as a pro. Tanzanite’s rarity means that you’ll probably be the only person you know who has a tanzanite engagement ring. As the stone gets rarer, with the depletion of its primary sources, it’s only going to get rarer.
- Tanzanite is affordable – Even though its extremely rare, this isn’t reflected in its price. Tanzanite is often called the underrated gemstone because its value does not correspond to its rarity, beauty or uniqueness. This is great news for you, because it means that you can find a beautiful stone that may be as beautiful as a blue sapphire or more so, and still not pay anything close to what you would pay for a similar blue sapphire.
- Tanzanite is natural – Most valuable gemstones on the market have been synthesized but tanzanite has not yet been successfully created in a lab. All tanzanite gemstones you see on the market are natural.
- Tanzanite has a striking color – Tanzanite’s color ranges from blue to purple and varies in saturation. However, a tanzanite gemstone with good color is a sight to behold. These stones are so rich and luxurious in appearance that they can rival even the most beautiful blue sapphires. When set in a well-crafted setting, tanzanite engagement rings look stunning.
- Tanzanite is an excellent collector’s item – Who doesn’t want a piece of history? Tanzanite is a popular collector’s item and rough gemstones, or well-cut stones are often bought by collectors.
- Tanzanite has good investment potential – It’s predicted that in the future, tanzanite prices will continue to rise as these stones become scarcer. This makes tanzanite a stone with great investment potential. If you’re purchasing a tanzanite for investment, however, always talk to an expert first.
- Tanzanite isn’t very durable – Although the stone looks like a sapphire, it doesn’t have the same sort of durability. A tanzanite gemstone only ranks at 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale, which makes it quite a soft gemstone. Unless you’re prepared to maintain the gemstone and protect it from too much exposure (more on this below), tanzanite might not be perfect for you.
- Tanzanite is rare – Yes, the very feature that makes tanzanite so special can also be seen as a con. Because the stone is so rare and the demand is low, it can be very difficult to find tanzanite rings. Your options will be limited compared to buying a blue sapphire or other similar gemstone.
- Tanzanite isn’t prestigious – I mentioned before that tanzanite is often considered one of the most underrated gemstones. This is a shame, because apart from durability, tanzanite can hold its own against any gemstone out there. Still, this makes tanzanite a ‘not very prestigious’ option. If you want to opt for something that society speaks highly of, you’re better off going with a sapphire or ruby.
- Tanzanite can be an imitation of sapphire – Although tanzanite is a gorgeous gemstone in and of itself, it’s sometimes used as an imitation of sapphire. This unethical practice degrades the reputation of tanzanite. However, the main giveaway is that tanzanite always has traces of violet whereas sapphire does not.
Tanzanite and the 4Cs
Notice the dichroic nature of this tanzanite ring. See it here.
Considering all the above advantages, there’s really not much reason not to choose a tanzanite. If you’ve decided to go for it, here’s what you have to look out for:
- Color: Choose a strong to vivid blue or purplish blue color as these are the most sought after and valuable. Almost all tanzanite will contain some amount of both blue and violet colors, but at different ratios. Note that heat treatment is normal for tanzanite, as it enhances and stabilizes the color.
- Clarity: Tanzanite with flawless clarity is more valuable, but also rarer. Choose a stone with no visible inclusions.
- Cut: Cut is very important for tanzanite because it makes the stone brilliant and enhances its color. Always look for a symmetrical cut that enhances the areas of light and dark within the stone. In terms of shape, any popular gemstone shape works for tanzanite.
- Carat: Larger tanzanite stones are more expensive as they’re much rarer in nature. Because tanzanite is less dense than diamonds, a tanzanite of similar weight to a diamond will appear larger.
- Treatments: Apart from heat treating, tanzanite can sometimes be fracture-filled to improve its clarity. This isn’t a common method but it’s a good idea to check with your jeweler about this.
Tanzanite Engagement Ring Styles
Tanzanite is a versatile gemstone and suits a wide range of engagement ring settings and styles. However, it’s always a good idea to consider the stone’s durability when choosing a setting.
Tanzanite in white gold setting with diamond halo. See it here.
In terms of metal color, white metals contrast with the blue of the gemstone clearly outlining the stone and emphasising its color. When paired with diamond melees, which adds sparkle to the setting, a tanzanite engagement ring looks modern and stylish. It also becomes virtually impossible to tell it apart from a blue sapphire.
Unique tanzanite ring by Ted & Mag. See it here.
However, yellow gold gives tanzanite rings a vintage vibe and a statement look. Rose gold is typically not paired with the blue of tanzanite as the color, but like yellow gold, it makes for a striking look and one that catches the eye.
Tanzanite rings can be found in popular settings like solitaire, halo or three-stone. It also looks stunning in vintage style jewelry wit unique embellishments.
How to Look After a Tanzanite Ring
Like any other gemstone, tanzanite requires reasonable care and attention to keep it sparkling for a long time. Because it can scratch more easily than most other engagement ring gemstones, means that it should be treated with respect.
Tanzanite has low hardness and cleavage, which means that if it’s struck it can cleave or break.
Always use mild liquid soap and warm water with a soft brush or cloth to clean tanzanite rings and rinse and dry well before wearing or storing away. Avoid ultrasonic or steam cleaners.
When storing tanzanite, keep it in a separate pouch or box, free of dust and other objects. Never expose tanzanite to harsh chemicals. If your tanzanite looks cloudy, it’s because it needs to be cleaned as the grime and dust on its surface can hide its sparkle.
Should I Buy a Tanzanite Engagement Ring?
Tanzanite clearly has many advantages that make it an attractive choice for your engagement ring. Choose tanzanite if you:
- Are looking for an affordable gemstone option
- Want a rare and stunning choice
- Want a more affordable substitute for blue sapphire
- Want a natural gemstone with potential investment value
However, don’t choose tanzanite if you:
- Want a ‘prestigious’ gemstone that everyone knows about
- Lead a busy and active lifestyle and use your hands a lot
- Don’t have time or inclination to maintain a tanzanite ring