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Tanzanite or Sapphire – What’s the Difference and Which Should I Choose?

Blue sapphire ring

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Both are highly attractive, popular blue gemstones that draw the eye and make you take a second look. One is extremely rare and the other is much more durable, but if you had to choose just one, which would be the right choice for you?

Here’s a look at tanzanite vs. sapphire and how they stack up against each other.

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Tanzanite vs sapphire gemstone facts infographic

What is Tanzanite?

Deeo blue tanzanite engagement ring close up halo setting

Tanzanite in white gold. Check price here.

A relatively new gemstone that was discovered in the 1960s, tanzanite is one of the rarest gemstones on the planet, with only a single known source of origin. Named after Tanzania, where the only tanzanite mine is located, this gemstone is so rare that experts estimate primary sources to run out in a few decades.

However, this rarity isn’t reflected in tanzanite’s price which can range from just $300 to around $500. It’s color is typically blue-violet, and can display different shades based on the angle and light source that it’s viewed in. It can be cut and faceted into all the popular gemstone cuts.

Tanzanite is not a very durable stone, only ranking at 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale. This means that it can easily be scratched, even by dust particles. It’s also not a tough stone and contains what’s known as cleavage – the tendency to break along internal lines when struck. You’ll have to treat it with respect and take reasonable care of it to ensure it lasts. There are no synthetic versions of tanzanite on the market and each stone you see is natural.

If you want to learn more about tanzanite, then this buying guide is for you.

What is Sapphire?

Blue sapphire ring in rose gold prong setting

Vintage look sapphire ring. See more sapphire engagement rings here.

The most popular blue gemstone for engagement rings, sapphires have been worn and coveted by royalty and commoners alike. Princess Diana’s blue Ceylon sapphire engagement ring, now worn by Duchess Kate Middleton, is the most famous engagement ring in the world.

Sapphires are extremely durable and resistant to scratches. They are also tough and don’t easily break or cleave. They make for perfect gemstones for daily wear. Sapphires come in a wide range of colors, with red sapphires known as ‘ruby’.

Although sapphires are much rarer than diamonds, they’re not as rare as tanzanite. However, they have great demand and because high quality sapphires are often very hard to find, these blue gemstones can cost exorbitant prices. Blue sapphire has been synthesized and lab-created versions are an excellent alternative to expensive natural sapphire.

Which is the Better Option for an Engagement Ring?

Both sapphires and tanzanite look very similar and often it can be difficult to tell them apart simply by looking at them. Here’s how to choose between these two stones:

  1. If you’re on a restricted budget, tanzanite makes an excellent option for a blue gemstone engagement ring. It’s a great substitute for blue sapphire and its rarity and uniqueness adds to its appeal. As it continues to increase in demand and admiration, thanks to its rarity, tanzanite is expected to increase in value with time.
  2. If you lead a busy and active lifestyle, using your hands a lot for work, sapphire is the better option for you. It will be able to resist damage and can withstand daily exposure. Sapphire is also much more prestigious than tanzanite and your engagement ring can easily turn into a heirloom piece.