If your preferred hue in jewels is blue there are a range of special stones available to buy. Here we take a look at Tanzanite and Sapphire, what sets them apart from each other and how they can set you apart from the crowd.
Sapphire, the Regal Classic
Blue sapphires are the most well-known colour variant of the sapphire family. The best sapphires are an intense velvet, royal or cornflower blue. Deep without being dark, they seem illuminated from within and sparkle brightly. Some blue sapphires exhibit more complexity, with shades of green or even a little purple present. Saturation is an important term when buying sapphires. It refers to the purity of the colour. The best sapphires are often described as possessing vivid saturation.
Durable Enough for Daily Wear
Sapphires are exceptionally durable. Their natural hardness makes them suitable for daily wear. They are a popular choice for engagement rings as the stone symbolises faithfulness and truth in ancient lore. The12-carat Ceylon sapphire given to Princess Diana by Prince Charles is perhaps the world’s most iconic engagement ring. Prince William, their eldest son and heir to the British throne, also gave the ring to his love, Kate Middleton, upon their engagement.
Sapphires are the birthstone of the September-born as well as a celebration jewel for both 5th and 45th wedding anniversaries.
Experts consider Kashmiri sapphires to be the most stunning. They come from high up in the Himalayas and can only be mined seasonally, making them quite rare. Luckily mines in Nigeria, Australia, China and Thailand produce to incredible sapphires too.
Remarkably versatile, these blue-green gems suit all kinds of cuts. This means the buyer can control the final style of the piece quite easily.
Like most gems, sapphires are prone to mineral inclusions. Some are harmless and look like tiny needles under a microscope. These are referred to as silk. Silk inclusions can sometimes throw coruscating light which can enhance the unique sparkle of a sapphire. Sought after Kashmiri sapphires often have silk inclusions. However, any inclusions that can be seen with the eye will affect the clarity of the stone and should be avoided.
Expert Tip: Sometimes coloured stones are heat treated to enhance colour and minimise inclusions. A trustworthy dealer should be able to tell you whether or not your sapphire has been heat-treated.
Tanzanite, the Rare African Beauty
Tanzanite is definitely the newer kid on the block. It was discovered in the 1960s by a Masai tribesman and is the purple variety of a stone called zoisite. Purple has been associated with royalty and luxury from the earliest days of human civilization and Tanzanite imbues the wearer with these qualities. After sapphires, it is the most popular blue gem.
Tanzanite owners are part of an exclusive club. The rare gemstone is found only in Mereleni, at the base of the mighty Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Reserves of Tanzanite are thought to be finite and this increases the value of the stone.
The most beautiful blue stone to be discovered in 2000 years.
Tanzanites unique colour range appeals to many buyers. The iconic jeweller Tiffany & Co described it as “the most beautiful blue stone to be discovered in 2000 years.” One stone, when tilted to catch the light, displays an enchanting range of purples, violets and deep inky blues. Some have compared the wondrous effect to staring into Elizabeth Taylor’s eyes. Before buying Tanzanite, even if it is in a setting, be sure to rock the stone or piece of jewellery back and forth in your palm to see the light show! Tanzanite is one of the few gemstones to display a quality called pleochroism. Some exceptional examples of Tanzanite even give off a flash of red at certain angles.
December girls will be delighted to know that this purple prize is their birthstone. It is also used to celebrate a 24th wedding anniversary.
About Colour, Shape and the all important Size.
Watch out for lighter Tanzanite! Pale Tanzanite has less value. Sometimes these stones are specially coated to improve the colour of the gem and make it look deeper. This coating wears away with time, so be sure to ask your dealer if the stone has been coated in any way.
Tanzanite can be cut into any shape your heart desires. Cushion and oval cuts are the most common because they highlight Tanzanite’s clarity and colour the best. Tanzanite is on the softer side for a gemstone is best suited for dress wear.
Size does matter when it comes to Tanzanite. The colour of a smaller stone is unlikely to live up to the drama this gem is famous for (think Beyonce’s ring). Upwards of 5 carats best displays the fine range of colours this stone has to offer. Although with skillful cutting, smaller periwinkle blue or lavender stones can hold a certain charm.