December Birthstone Tanzanite

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Tanzanite, one of the youngest and rarest gemstones, was only discovered in Tanzania in 1967 and made a gemstone of December birthdays in 2002.

The newest addition to the birthstone family, Tanzanite, is an unusual gemstone, found in only one place in the world: the African country of Tanzania. It was discovered in 1967 and popularized by Tiffany and Co. and other jewelers as “the gemstone of the 20th century.” Tanzanite has made an impression on the jewelry and gemstone trade with its vivid violet-blue color, clarity, and rarity.

Purple Blue Tanzanite

Tanzanite is a variety of zoisite, a mineral found in various colors in parts of Europe, African, and Asia. The blue-violet variety, tanzanite, has been found exclusively in Tanzania. Other varieties of zoisite can be heat-treated to turn their colors from pink, brown, yellow, or pale green to blue.

Tanzanite has a hardness of 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale, but it is fragile and easily damaged by bumps, collisions, heat, or cold. Care must be taken to maintain tanzanite’s beauty.

Tanzanite in Myth and History

Tanzanite was discovered in 1967 in the Merelani Hills of northern Tanzania. In the past forty years, this special blue variety of zoisite, with its characteristic violet hue, has only ever been found in an area of about five square miles at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro – making it a very rare gemstone.

Some claim that tanzanite was discovered by Masai cattle herders or shepherds after a lightning fire scoured areas of northern Tanzania, transforming the brown zoisite that ordinarily scattered the ground into beautiful, purple-blue gems.

Magical Significance and Powers of Tanzanite

Because tanzanite is such a relatively new gemstone, there is little history or lore on its metaphysical or magical properties. Nevertheless, tanzanite is said to:

  • be calming and grounding
  • provide balance in busy, stressful lives
  • feed the throat chakra, center of voice and communication
  • support the third eye chakra, center of insight and vision
  • strengthen psychic abilities
  • awaken the mind and heart
  • cleanse toxins
  • ease blood pressure

Tanzanite Gemstone in Jewelry and Fashion

Tanzanite is the gemstone of the 24th wedding anniversary. It was introduced to jewelry markets by Tiffany and Co. and the world-famous company is credited with creating the name “tanzanite” (after its place of origin, Tanzania) when “blue zoisite” seemed to lack excitement. After sapphire, tanzanite may be the most popular blue gemstone in expensive jewelry today.

December birthstones are always blue, and the historic gems for December birthdays are no exception. But turquoise and zircon can be difficult to find in fine jewelry, so the new and popular tanzanite was added to the official birthstone list of the American Gem Trade Association in 2002 as an additional birthstone for December.


  • American Gem Trade Association, “A New Birthstone,”, 2009.
  • Bernardine Fine Art Jewelry, “Tanzanite Facts, Information and Description,”, 2009.
  • International Colored Gemstone Association, “Tanzanite,”, 2009.

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