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July 4, 2020
8 mins.

Guide to Buying Tanzanite Jewelry Online

Important facts when buying tanzanite jewelry online

When buying Tanzanite jewelry online, you may be limited from a physical inspection of the gemstone. However, there are ways that can help you pick the right one for you. The first thing you need to know is that not all blue gemstones are Tanzanite.

A Short History About Tanzanite

Tanzanite is believed to have been formed about 585 million years ago but was only discovered by Manuel de Souza in the Mererani Hills of Manyara Region in Northern Tanzania in 1967.

In its natural state, zoisite is rarely blue. The blue color of zoisite is produced by the minerals of Vanadium in its lattice and achieved by heat-treating the brown zoisite to a temperature of 600 degrees Celsius for about 30 minutes. That is 6 times the temperature of boiling water!

Did you think 600 degrees Celsius is a lot of heat? Hold that thought! As compared to other gems such as rubies and sapphires, Tanzanite’s heat treatments is considered mild. Rubies and sapphires can be heated to temperatures between 1000 and 1800 degrees Celsius and the heat is sustained for days or weeks.

Tanzanite was used for commercial purposes in the 1960s. Within a short period of time, the stone gained popularity and became the second most popular blue gem after sapphire. Apart from its unique beauty and characteristics, people purchase Tanzanite because of its much lower price compared to other gems.

Tanzania is the only world’s known source of the rare blue gemstone. The gemstone was given its name bu Tiffany & Co. who named it after its country of origin. To-date, This blue gemstone can only be mined in the Mererani Hills near the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Are all blue gems Tanzanite?

The answer is no. Customers are advised to be careful when buying Tanzanite Jewelry online as there are other blue gems in the commercial markets. Color alone should not be a determining factor as there are other blue gemstones include aquamarine, topaz, and sapphire.

On top of that, experts in gemstones have come up with the Four C’s used for the grading of most gemstones. Be sure to request information on the gemstone from the seller so you can check if they fit the criteria of Four Cs. 

Beautiful Tanzanite stones of different shapes

What are The Four Cs ?

1. Color

Color refers to the hue of the stone and the degree of color saturation. Unlike in diamonds, color in Tanzanites is the most significant feature. The blue in a Tanzanite is valued in terms of hue, tone, and saturation. Clear, deep blue violet Tanzanites are valued more than dusty ones.

Tanzanite is a pleochroic gem, which means that it can seem to have different colors when viewed from different angles. It obtains its blue color as a result of heat treatment, which reveals Tanzanite’s pleochroic blue and violet colors. Heat-treatment can occur naturally through the natural-heating process within the earth before the gem is mined.

Only a small amount of Tanzanite has a naturally produced blue color through the heat of metamorphism. These naturally blue gems are more valuable and held in high regard by both gemstone buyers and sellers.

Tanzanite can also be man-heated which is a recognized practice in order to achieve the famous blue color of the gem.

How do I know if Tanzanite has been heated or not?

Determining whether Tanzanite has been heated or not is a challenging task. Most professionals are also under the assumption that the majority of this gemstone in the world have been heated in one way or another.

An honest seller will disclose if the gem has been heat-treated. Heat treatment has a significant effect on the stone's value but won’t depreciate its quality.

As with most colored gemstones, the deeper the color, the higher the value. Untreated Tanzanite is typically brownish in color, and while they are not considered to be the best, many people who prefer softer colors will gladly purchase them.

2. Clarity

A gemstone clarity refers to the number of inclusions or flaws found in the stone. Inclusions and/or flaws occur naturally and have an effect on the value of gemstones. A gemstone with less or no inclusions has more value as compared to one with inclusions and/or flaws.

Like Diamond, the clarity of Tanzanite is graded ranging from Internally Flawless (IF) to Included. Below are the known clarity grades:

  • Flawless - without any inclusions whether minor or major. It is a darker blue and see-through.
  • Internally Flawless - This is the most common sold Tanzanite, and as the name implies, it is internally flawless.
  • Very Very Slightly Included - May contain minor inclusions that are not visible to the naked eye. The inclusions can only be viewed through a magnification lens under a ten times magnification size. They are not at all visible under 6x magnification.
  • Very Slightly Included - The inclusions are not visible to the naked eye, they can be slightly visible under 6x magnification.
  • Slightly Included - The inclusions are not visible to the naked eye but can be easily seen under 6x magnification.
  • Included - Inclusions easily are seen with the naked eye.

Why does clarity matter?

Think of inclusions as wanna-be-cracks in a gemstone. They put the gem at risk of developing cracks and eventually resulting in breakage. This can lower the value of a gemstone greatly. It is only logical that high rated gemstones with higher or perfect clarity are rarer and more valuable.

For Tanzanite and other colored gemstones, unlike in diamonds, the concern is mostly placed on whether the inclusions are visible to the naked eye. There is less regard to the number of inclusions visible under the scope.

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA), classifies Tanzanite as a Type I gemstone, which means it is usually flawless to the naked eye. This means that a Tanzanite with flaws visible to the eye is quite rare to find and will be lower in value. Most of the gemstones sold for jewelry has inclusions that can only be seen under magnification

3. Cut

The Cut refers to how the gemstone has been shaped to optimize its beauty. Cutting has an effect on what color the consumer will see afterwards.

This makes cutting a thorough and precise procedure as it may affect the color, fire and beauty of the product.

Deciding how to cut a Tanzanite is making a financial decision by itself. A cut has an impact on color, and some weight might be lost in the process. Those two factors are considerable factors in determining the value of Tanzanite.

Cuts to achieve a violet-purplish color wastes less weight as compared to cutting aiming for a violet-blueish color. This is why violet purple Tanzanites are more readily available than those with a stronger blue color.

A selection of rings you can get when buying Tanzanite Jewelry online

4. Carat

Tanzanite is measured in terms of Carat Weight. One carat has 100 points and weighs 1/5 of a gram. Naturally the higher the carat, the higher the cost. If a Tanzanite is larger in size and its colors and clarity are optimum, its value grows even further.

The weight of Tanzanite stones varies depending on the stone’s depth. “Face up” measurements (length x width) are the best way to measure a Tanzanite’s visual size.

Tanzanite is available in a wide variety of sizes. The finest and deepest colors are usually seen in sizes over 5 carats. Smaller stones are often less intense in color. For instance, if you have two stones of equal saturation, the larger one will have a richer color.

Smaller stones are more available than larger Tanzanites. The most common faceted Tanzanites are under five carats and are widely used in commercial jewelry. Stone over fifty carats are available but rare and those with top-color grade often end up in custom or designer jewelry.

What Other Factor to Consider when Buying Tanzanite Online?

Loose Stones vs Jewellery

Tanzanite can be bought as a single stone or as jewelry. The choice is yours. The advantage of buying loose stones is that you have more freedom of buying sets of stones that you can use to create matching jewelry. You could also keep the stones as an investment due to its predicted scarcity in the next decades.

Durability of Tanzanite

While tanzanite is undoubtedly beautiful, it can also be very delicate and not suitable for all uses. Tanzanite is best used in jewelry items that will not encounter abrasion and impact such as earrings and pendants. Tanzanites may not be suited for rings especially if you intend to wear the ring on a daily basis. It may be best to save the ring for special occasions so as to reduce abrasion and impact. You are also advised to select jewelry whose design is set to protect the stone..

Watch out for Imitations

Tanzanite is no exception to imitations. A few manufactured materials such as synthetic forsterite (a mineral in the olivine solid solution series) have a similar appearance to tanzanite. Others include Coranite; synthetic blue corundum, Tanavyte; a purple yttrium aluminum garnet and some blue glass has also been used as a tanzanite imitation.

Imitation materials cannot legally be sold as "tanzanite." They must be labeled in a way that gives the buyer a clear understanding that the item being purchased is not natural tanzanite but only "looks like tanzanite."

Luckily, there aren’t any synthetic Tanzanites (yet). Seeing how the world will be short of Tanzanite in a few years, it is only expected that someone will figure out a way to make Synthetic Tanzanite. When we get to that stage, you may want to check if you are getting an original Tanzanite or a synthetic one.

Coatings

Some coatings of cobalt have been applied to some pale-colored Tanzanites to improve their color. An experienced jeweler should be able to recognize coated Tanzanite and inform the buyer accordingly. However, you shouldn’t take chances why your purchase and add coating to your list of questions to the seller.

Tanzanite certificate from Tanzanite experience

Origin.

Unless you are looking to buy an heirloom a.k.a a secondhand Tanzanite, ask for Tanzanite whose origin is Tanzania. Well, this should be simple, given that the only source of Tanzanite is Tanzania.

Read the return policy.

This is important when buying tanzanite jewelry online. Be sure to check the return policy in case the stone delivered to you looks nothing like what you saw online

Select the right accompanying items.

Metal preference can also affect the cost. Usually, 10K gold is lower priced than Metal preference can also affect the cost. Usually, 10K gold is lower priced than 18K gold, both yellow gold finish, as well as white gold. The color of a tanzanite is always enhanced by white gold. If you are choosing Tanzanite and diamond jewelry, choose diamonds of a lower color and tip the costs. Such small diamonds don’t need certification necessarily.

If not sure, Build your own.

If you prefer Tanzanite jewelry over loose stones, a great way is to customize your design online. Most sites offer to customize jewelry, and you canIf you prefer Tanzanite jewelry over loose stones, a great way is to customize your design online. Most sites offer to customize jewelry, and you can choose the tanzanite and its accompanying gold/diamond according to your budget.

Cool Tanzanite facts:

  • Tanzanite is believed to have healing and metaphysical properties and is said to enhance communication and psychic powers.
  • Tanzanite is the official birthstone for December.
  • Tanzanite is the suggested gift for the 24th wedding anniversary.
  • The colour blue amongst the Maasai is seen as sacred and spiritual.
  • The biggest tanzanite in the world is a single large crystal of 16,839 carats, well over 3kg. It has been named “The Mawenzi” after Kilimanjaro’s second highest peak.

UNDERSTANDING TANZANITE

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