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  • Sourcing Tanzanite

Sourcing Tanzanite

Sourcing Tanzanite

We recently put together this stunning Tanzanite and diamond ring for our customer, but sourcing Tanzanite of this size and quality is becoming increasingly difficult.

To begin with, Tanzanite is rare.  It is only found in one location on Earth, a small area in Tanzania among the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro.  It has never been found anywhere else and the complex ingredients and conditions required for it to form mean that the chances of finding another deposit are thought to be a million to one.  It is always difficult to predict how long mines will continue to produce, but geologists estimate possibly around 25 years of supply is left and the yield from the mine is diminishing as the years go by.  

Tanzanite in any quality is a rare material, but stones that have an intense violet-blue colour alongside fantastic clarity and large size (the stone in this ring weighs 7.30ct) make up only a tiny proportion of what is mined.  This means it can be tricky to find a stone if you are looking for a particular shape and size.

Recent changes in the law in Tanzania have also had an impact upon the supply of fine quality material into the jewellery market.  The Tanzanian government have made it illegal to export rough Tanzanite crystals; now all stones must be cut before they can leave the country.  The aim of this policy is sensible; it is an attempt to ensure that more of the money made by Tanzanite stays in Tanzania.  In practice however, the change has disrupted supply.  Cutting gemstones is a highly skilled job and Tanzania doesn't have an established cutting industry.  This cannot be established overnight and in the meantime suppliers are finding themselves having to have the material they buy re-cut in order to produce the attractive stones demanded by the market.  Re-cutting a stone reduces its size and earlier mistakes in the cutting process can limit the options available to the later cutter.  This has a particular impact on the supply of large stones; having the Tanzanite cut twice increases the amount of weight lost, usually resulting in a smaller stone than would otherwise have been possible.

Hopefully, time will see the difficult cutting situation improve, but with decreasing supply it seems likely that fine Tanzanite will remain a tricky gemstone to source.  If you are looking to purchase a Tanzanite our experienced team of jewellers and gemmologists will be happy to help you.  You can simply drop in to our showroom for an informal chat; there is no need to book an appointment.

  • Post author
    Zoe Lewis

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