It was the Maasai tribesman Ali Juuyawatu who first shared his blue-violet crystal find with Manuel de Souza (a Tailor by profession and prospector by passion) who was in the region searching for rubies. At first it was thought the stones were unusually vibrant sapphires, but the new gemstones were more complex than a sapphire, their colour more exotic. Manuel de Souza had no idea he’d encountered a gemstone the world had never seen, one that remained unnamed.
The beauty of tanzanite did not elude the savvy marketing of Henry B. Platt, great grandson of Louis Comfort Tiffany (and later President and Chairman of New York’s Tiffany & Co). It was Platt who named the stone ‘tanzanite’ and who introduced it to the world with great fanfare at Tiffany & Co in 1968.
Heralded “the gemstone of the 20th century”, tanzanite’s blue-purple fire soon took the world by storm and demand for tanzanite jewellery grew dramatically. In 1998 and 1999 tanzanite was proclaimed the world’s best selling coloured gemstone. Today, demand for tanzanite continues, outstripping sales of all other coloured gemstones (with the exception of the sapphire).
In recognition of its popularity, tanzanite was added to the jewellery industry’s official birthstone list in 2002. This saw tanzanite join turquoise and zircon as accepted birthstones for December. Not a small thing when you consider the list had not been changed since 1912! Now an official birthstone, tanzanite is regarded as the ideal gem to celebrate new life and new beginnings.
Maasai women that have had the honour of giving birth to a child, wear blue beads and fabric to bestow upon the child a healthy and positive life, setting themselves apart as creators of new life.
This custom, protected and preserved by the proud Maasai over generations, is now embodied in the unique colour of a mystical gem, tanzanite. Now women, from all over the world, have begun to see tanzanite as ‘The birthstone’.
The gift of tanzanite at birth uniquely symbolizes new beginnings and pays tribute to those who have shown the greatest of loves by becoming a parent.
Be part of this tradition. Celebrate new life. Be born to tanzanite.
The rare and precious gemstone tanzanite is found in only one place on earth, deep in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, East Africa. The entire area mined is only four square kilometres wide.