Education Gems Jewelry

December Birthstone – Tanzanite Gemstone

The winter holidays are by far the most popular time of year for jewelry gift-giving. For your December-born loved ones, a gift of diamond jewelry adorned with their birthstone offers a personal sentiment and a wish of luck and prosperity. December is one of several months that have multiple recognized birthstones, allowing you more freedom in the selection process. While blue topaz and turquoise were once the most popular December birthstone options, a newer, more precious stone has become today’s premier choice: tanzanite.

Found only in Tanzania, tanzanite was added to the birthstone list of the American Gem Trade Association in 2002. This was momentous, as it was the first new stone added to the register in nearly a century. Some would attest that tanzanite was discovered at just the right time; as the publicity surrounding conflict diamonds or blood diamonds climaxed, gemstone procurers queried more about the origins of all precious jewels, preferring to purchase only legitimate certified gems. Due to its rarity, tanzanite can be easily traced back to its source.

The stone was discovered relatively recently in 1967, when nomads witnessed a gleaming blue radiance on the surface of an isolated rock mound at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. The somewhat soft crystals were collected and sent for assessment to a German lapidary. There, the stones were identified as blue zoisite, which formed inside undisturbed deposits within the elevation. As the German pronunciation of “zoisite” is phonetically similar to the English word “suicide”, it was thought best to give the matchless gem the more amiable name of tanzanite, representative of its country of origin.

Today, tanzanite has taken on a strong position in the gemstone market, with mining efforts continuing at the sole geological site. In its unprocessed state, tanzanite has an earthy, lackluster brown tint, so it’s believed that a strike of lightning was responsible for the transformation of the superficial crystals that were first to be discovered, making them conspicuous to the wandering shepherds. Now, collected tanzanite gems are heat-treated to permanently convert each stone to its majestic, mesmerizing color, which can range from periwinkle, lilac, and lavender to the deeper pigments of blue, indigo, and purple that are colloquially symbolic of royalty. Typically, a smaller-sized stone will be more pallid in color, and therefore more reasonably priced. Conversely, a larger stone tends to be more intense in color and consequently of higher value. Irrespective of its worth, the stone’s broad color continuum has earned tanzanite a reputation as the “one size fits all” jewel, appealing to a wide variety of individual tastes.

For some, a gift of a ruby or emerald may seem too seasonal to wear throughout the year. Tanzanite, with its amethyst hue, proves itself a more versatile jewel that can be donned anytime and can be placed as accents in an engagement ring or anniversary ring. Even for those who weren’t born in December, a gift of tanzanite can be presented to commemorate the birth of a new baby, symbolizing a wish of health, happiness, and good fortune to mother and child. At Brilliance, we offer a beautiful assortment of gemstone gifts for every occasion.