Tanzanite is a blue to violet gemstone which is a member of the zoisite mineral group. It was discovered in 1967 by Masai tribesman, Ali Juuyawatu in the hills of Northern Tanzania, which remains the sole source of Tanzanite to this day. Tanzanite was given its name by Tiffany & Co. who promoted the gemstone, resulting in its sudden popularity.
Tanzanite is pleochroic, which means that it shows different colours depending on the viewing angle. In order to get the preferred blue or violet-blue hue, gem cutters must properly orient tanzanite gemstones. The vivid blue of tanzanite can rival fine sapphire and makes tanzanite an extremely desirable gemstone. This attractive colour is so sought after that tanzanite is routinely heated to enhance fine blue and violet hues and minimize the less desirable brownish tones.
Tanzanite is only found in one place on earth; Tanzania, East Africa. The only known deposit of tanzanite is located on a five square mile hilltop at Merelani Hills near Ausha, ten miles south of the Kilimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania.