The Maasai people of East Africa believe that “Magic Fire” in the form of lightning set the earth alight and the shimmering blue-violet gems we know as Tanzanite were created.
These truly beautiful gems are only found at the Merelani mine in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro and some say they are a thousand times more rare than diamond.
According to popular myth, nomadic Masai first found beautiful blue Tanzanite crystals which had been transformed from their typical bronzy greyish brown appearance by a grass fire. Although this story is more like urban legend, the Masai are a people forever linked to Tanzanite as they regard blue as a sacred spiritual colour. Once bestowing blue beads and robes to women who have born children, the Masai have now adapted this old tradition. Today, Masai chiefs give Tanzanite to women on the birth of their baby as a blessing for a healthy, positive and successful life.
The name “tanzanite” was given because the world’s only known tanzanite deposit of commercial importance is in northern Tanzania. The name reflects the gem’s limited geographic origin. The mines are all located in an area of about eight square miles in the Merelani Hills, near the base of Mount Kilimanjaro and the city of Arusha.
Although nearly all of the world’s most popular gemstones have been known and used for hundreds of years, tanzanite was not discovered in commercial quantities until the 1960s. In the short time since then, it has become the second most popular blue gem after sapphire. It is one of a very small number of gems of any colour that have been discovered and brought to strong consumer popularity within the past century. This rapid rise to popularity was accomplished mainly by Tiffany’s promotion and tanzanite’s beautiful blue colour.
With just a single source and limited supply, it is believed that, at the current rate of mining, there is somewhere between 15 and 20 more years of Tanzanite left in the ground. Ultimately, this indicates that beyond OUR generation, there will be no more Tanzanite and the buyers of today are the last of the first-time buyers of this precious gemstone.
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