Nature never ceases to surprise us. She continues to keep secrets that we may never discover. Fifty years ago in the skies of Africa, a lucky treasure hunter found under the ashes a very particular and shining object that would change his life and impose a new trend in the world of jewelry. Tanzanite is Kilimanjaro’s gift and its history is captivating. Would you dare to climb to the top of the mountain to discover it?
Elevated at 5891.8 meters, at the highest point of the magnificent African continent, in an area of only 14 square kilometers and 585 million years ago, happened one of those phenomena of the earth, which are so incredible that leave us breathless. This event is known as the “Pan-African event“. Because of this, the continents changed and this modification resulted in the mountain of Kilimanjaro, and the Great Rift Valley, in the only part of Africa from which you can see the whole continent, which is in the northeast of the country that hosts the cradle of humanity: Tanzania.
The geological events given in nature not only generate changes in the distribution of territories, because it turns out that below, very below in the surface of the earth, in a place which most of us ignore completely, are also happening multiple changes. This is where the magic of precious stones occurs. It sounds like a fantastic story but it is completely real and this particular case gives us a beautiful treasure discovered only about 50 years ago.
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Kilimanjaro’s Treasure discovered
The area of Kilimanjaro was always very prone to forest fires. Sometimes, lightning can strike and originate flames. Despite these fires, explorers always visit the place in search of anything. One day, the mountain was visited by a group of Maasai hunters, who risked their lives going into caves and climbing to the top of the mountain,hoping to find something that would completely change the fate of their lives. One of these hunters, Ali Juuyawatu, was following the march with his companions, when suddenly between the dust and the ashes he saw some small blue stones; the hunter took what he could and when he returned he showed them to a gold and gems seeker, a Portuguese, called Manuel d’Souza. At first they thought they were sapphires, because of their shimmering blue color.
For the hunters, it immediately became a symbolic and a sacred stone, as they maintained the faith that it would bring prosperity to their lives. It turns out that a few years later, tanzanite repeated history to change the life of a new woman, filling her life with prosperity. But this is a story for later.
The Maasai give great importance to the color blue. For them, it is the color of the sacred and it represents life, and new beginnings such as the sky, which marks the beginning of a new day and a new opportunity for life. Even in the same area where the jewel was discovered, the hunters gave this blue stone as a gift to the women in the gestation period as a symbol of blessing for the next baby to be born. Tradition transcended to such an extent that in some countries this blue jewel is given as a gift to a new mother.
Searching the feeling of prosperity, the rest of the fortune hunters went mountain after mountain in search of the beautiful blue stone. It was impossible not to be dazzled by a stone with a blue so particular that it feels like a violet tone.
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It was considered the gemstone of the 20th century and one of the most important discoveries for the jewelry world in the year 2000’s (if not the most important).
As all valuable goods quickly become known, an obsession for the stone was unleashed between the wealthiest. Manuel de Souza brought the discovery to the hands and eyes of John Saúl, who was a very important wholesaler of gems from Nairobi. Saul, together with an MIT doctor, made the decision to send the samples to Hyman Saul, the current president of Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, and this took the small stones to the Gemological Institute of America. In the study process were also involved some mineralogists from Harvard University, Heidelberg University and the British Museum. Everyone wanted to know what this discovery was all about. However, it was a Tanzanian government geologist who finally managed to identify this stone. Thanks to Mr Ian McCloud we actually know how this stone is made up and where it comes from.
It turns out that it was there since the beginning, but its rough appearance is in the form of a brown tone that was never attractive to treasure hunters, the beautiful blue color can only be achieved once the environment of the stone reaches 600 degrees; that’s right, a fire.
Tanzanite Precious Stone
“The stone of Tanzania”, a thousand times more valuable than a diamond,was called:blue zoisite.A beautiful jewel of nature that can only be found in the 14 km space where it was originally found. It does not exist in the rest of the world, and that captivated all the specialists who described it in the following way.
- Hardness: 6.5-7 on the Mohs scale, is not very durable, is mild, should be treated verycarefully and cannot be subjected to ultrasonic treatments.
- Gloss: vitreous and pearlescent
- Cutting: needs special cutters, has perfect cruising in one direction only.
- Fracture: uneven
- Exfoliation: good
- Color: This is a trichromatic stone; this tells us that each Tanzanite stone has three colors: blue, red-violet and yellow-green brown (bronze). The intensity of the colors varies according to the angle where you look at the stone.
Since its discovery, approximately two million carats have been extracted from this stone, shortly before the mines were nationalized by the Tanzanian government in 1971. In 2010, the government said “No more” to the exports of this jewel if the rough piece weighed more than a gram. You may already have an idea of how complicated it is to get it.
Tiffany & Co
Tiffany & Co, equals prestige and royalty, and guess which jewelers were completely enraptured with the newly discovered jewel…
The undeniable beauty of this jewel exploded the heads of the world’s most important jewelers who were dedicated to designing the first and most beautiful jewelry the world had never seen. In October 1968, New York and Tiffany celebrated the new jewel: “Tanzanite” in honor of its place of origin where it had been hidden from the human eye for 6,000 years. Tanzanite had conquered the world in 1968 to never leave it. The executives of the powerful jewelry firm launched a thunderous marketing campaign whose slogans were: “1,000 times rarer than diamond”. and “You can find it only in two places all over the world, Tanzania and Tiffany“.
The Stone of Generation
Last 2017, tanzanite celebrated the 50th anniversary of one of the most important discoveries of the century, and the most important for the world of the jewelry industry in the 2000’s. The world surrendered to the beautiful African violet stone. However, nothing can be perfect and unfortunately the most striking faculty of the stone: “it only exists in one place of the world”, plays against all the fanatics and collectors who aspire to acquire this stone.
The existence of tanzanite is really limited, and with the current extraction rate, it is estimated that only 15 or 20 years remain before it disappears completely; which means that this generation will be the last to know this precious stone.
It is worth noting that tanzanite was formed in the depths of the earth 6,000 years ago, which is why it is said to appear when it is the right time in people’s lives. After centuries of excavations it was only in the 60’s when it began to be extracted; lovers of jewelry and the energy of the stones are really privileged.
If the discovery had taken place a few years earlier, we would probably only look at it in photos. We are the latest buyers of natural tanzanite in the world. For this reason, jewelers recommend collectors to acquire it, or simply those who want to keep a piece of history that will never return. This is the last moment.
The earth sometimes presents its works of art to us for a short time to remind us that it is still alive, and therefore we need to respect it.
The rarer the combination of properties of a stone, and the more limited its supply, the more valuable a jewel will be. It doesn’t matter where you buy it from, the fact is that if this stone gets into your hands, there will be many hours of work involved.
Depending on its purity, it will be high or low cost, and it is through graduation that this factor is determined. Briefly said in terms of precious stones, the less inclusions it has, the purer and more expensive the stone has to be. The first-class gem is pure to the naked human eye. The normal tones of the most expensive stones are blue and purple, purple being understood as a spectrum of tone that lies between the color red and blue.
Some of the most important personalities in the world have under their power important samples of tanzanite, these people value their pieces as sacred objects, that in a little more than a decade will cease to exist. Look at this sample:
This piece is the largest tanzanite in the world, and is set in a beautiful tiara made with 803 green Tsavorites that were also extracted from the mines of Tanzania. The queen of Kilimanjaro is part of the collection of Michale Scott who was the CEO of Apple. However, it would be somewhat absurd to think that Michale preserves it only for its beauty, as the truth is that most people who choose it as their stone do so full of faith that they will receive all the prosperity and good omens that this stone has always brought to those who find it.
Since its appearance before the Maasai hunters, much of humanity decided to become a believer in the goodness of this stone; half a century ago it was believed that whoever found it would be greatly blessed with prosperity and good fortune, the same as those who possess it.
A few years ago, the story of the Maasai hunters was repeated, this time touching the life of an incredible African woman named Pili Hussein:
Pili Hussein was born in Tanzania and her life since childhood was linked to the rough tasks of a “boy”; her father, who was a cattle farmer and had been married to 6 women, forced her to take care of the cattle, an activity that Pili definitely did not enjoy.
As she grew older, her life didn’t get any easier. At the age of 31, she had to run away from her former husband because she couldn’t resist any more abuses. She had to go ahead and defend herself, and for this she needed money; however, she did not have any experience other than what she had done with her father all this time…
For this reason, upon arriving at the village of Mererani, which is located in the foothills of Kilimanjaro, the only mountain in the world that produces Tanzanites and the highest in Africa,she decided to discard all the rules and engage in mining. But it wouldn’t be easy, because this work was completely forbidden for women.
“I came in dressed as a man, cut some pants and showed myself to be the strongest of them all.”
Only then could she continue working 10 to 12 hours a day, digging 600 meters deep. Just imagining her in this scene brings to our minds the image of the powerful Princess Mulan posing as a Chinese warrior to protect her elderly father; however, Pili only wanted to protect herself and find a new opportunity.
No one ever suspected her true identity, as she always carried a knife and acted like a real fierce animal. Until one day of misfortune, a group of miners with malevolent intentions sexually abused a woman passing through the mines and decided to blame Pili.
Despite her suffering and despair, the lie did not last long, as Pili confessed that she was a woman and was subjected to a series of tests that revealed that she was innocent, thanks to this truth she was able to be free.
Pili had to tell the truth to the authorities and asked for physical examinations to prove that she was a woman, it was thanks to this that she was released from prison.
Upon her release, she continued to dedicate herself to mining, day after day without rest. It wasn’t until one of those afternoons of physical and mental fatigue that you ask yourself, how much more will you have to fight; when Pili heard the answer of fate... After 10 hours of excavation, she found a mine of tanzanites that had not yet been discovered, in the same way that the stone had touched Ali’s life in the 60’s, it appeared as an angel in Pili’s story.
Pili invested her entire fortune in a mining company where 70 people worked for her, including women who worked as cooks. Mrs. Hussein managed to buy a house for her and for her family and paid for the education of 30 of her nephews and nieces. Today she lives in Africa near the mountain where this beautiful magic stone lives, enjoying its miracle, very close to home.
The tanzanite stone is not only a symbol of prosperity, but is also used in sessions to relieve stress in the new era that we live today. The most used technique is to place the stone in the brain chakra for a while, its energies will be absorbed and work where the person needs it most to induce a state of much relaxation. Some other specialists advise it to remove the toxic obsessions that deteriorate us internally.
The worldwide adoration of tanzanite has led the large counterfeiting industries to create synthetic versions that are virtually identical to a real tanzanite. Although unlike other stones, the supply of tanzanite is kept under control, but imitations find their way into the market. It is very important for a stone collector, or for an amateur to know how to detect when the piece is genuine. Here are some tips:
The stone should be observed with a natural light bulb and an incandescent light, the genuine stone being trichromatic shows three colors, which are: blue and violet under natural light, but under incandescent light should notice red and pink flashes.
The color intensity of the face of the stone must be equal to that of the top. When iolite is used to imitate it, the angles are usually different from the top, more transparent and yellow.
Another valuable piece of information is to look for refractions in the stone, i.e. depth of shine, when the stone is false, colored glass is used and this looks flatter.
How to care for tanzanite
Equally, the most important thing is to acquire the stone from jewelers with good reputation; this besides taking care of the tanzanite, which is extremely delicate and must be handled following certain rules. Some collectors have come to lose perfect samples of the stone by simple carelessness.
One of the most important factors when caring for tanzanite is temperature, very sudden temperature changes or uneven temperature loads tend to damage it.
Its transparency makes it a favorite stone for jewelry marketed at very high prices, according to its category, so generally the pieces that have samples of tanzanite are quite delicate and for special occasions. Although wedding rings from Tiffany´s are quite sought after.
As mentioned in the characteristics of the stone, it is very sensitive to pressure loads such as those that take place in crushing and barrel work.
Even in the same treatment process it can be damaged. For example, cracks may occur when the stone is placed on the welding foil or on the cooling board.
Acids or mixtures containing any type of acid are completely prohibited, as well as the use of ultrasonic machines to clean the stone.
The world has only a few samples of tanzanite left, even those currently extracted do not become as pure as those that were ever obtained, so if you decided to have one for yourself, try to make it
100% real Kilimanjaro, so that it can help you give that change you need to your life and fulfill what you proposed in this year. It is undoubtedly very disappointing to know that they are almost exhausted, and that their presence in the world is the most ephemeral of all jewels, but this situation also makes it something very special.
Research to locate tanzanite somewhere else in the world has always been present, no one wants to let it go; however, during this half-century no clues could ever be found. So far, it is a unique place in the world, although experts do not lose faith.
Will tanzanite in this last decade have a new purpose on earth?
Yes, there are very few left, but you‘re still in time. Unlike the massai you don’t need to climb to the top of the mountain to discover it. Do you dare to experience its magic?
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Originally Post “Tanzanita: El Tesoro Descubierto″
Translated by Oscar Moreno