If you’re weighing your options on which blue gemstone is the best, no doubt you’ve considered tanzanite and sapphire. Tanzanite and sapphire are two of the most popular blue gemstones in existence. They look very similar to one another, but tanzanite is a bit more difficult to identify than its sister stone because it’s often mistaken for being a type of sapphire due to their similarities in appearance. Aside from visual appeal, these stones differ greatly when looking at rarity or price point.
Both tanzanite and sapphire are among the ten most valuable precious stones. These two gems have been traded for thousands of years to almost every region in the world that has had contact with traders from other countries. Both are mined only in a few locations throughout the world.
In recent years, experts have debated whether these two gemstones should be classified as separate species of gemstone or varieties within the same spectrum of color variation amongst corundum (the mineral family which includes the ruby, sapphire, and emerald).
In this article we will have a detailed comparison between Tanzanite and sapphire.
Tanzanite vs. Sapphire – Origin, and History
Both tanzanite and sapphire are among the ten most valuable precious stones. These two gems have been traded for thousands of years to almost every region in the world that has had contact with traders from other countries. Both are mined only in a few locations throughout the world. In recent years, experts have debated whether these two gemstones should be classified as separate species of gemstone or varieties within the same spectrum of color variation amongst corundum (the mineral family which includes the ruby, sapphire, and emerald).
Tanzanite is a relatively recent discovery. It was first discovered in the Merelani Hills of northern Tanzania in 1967 by Arthur C. Dagg. The deposit he found, now named the “Easily Mine,” yields high-quality gems due to their transparent nature and distinctive colors (violet-blue). Gemstones from this location are notable for being extremely blue and purplish compared with other types of gemstones found in its family, even those that come from other locations within Tanzania such as Karo mines near Lake Natron; or Namanga; or Iringa -vs.- Zaire Maiwa mine, which bears colors closer to Sapphire than Tanzanite stones from Easily mine. On average, corundum gemstones from the Easily mine have higher quantities of vanadium and chromium impurities, which are responsible for imparting their distinctive color.
Sapphire is the birthstone for September and being one of the traditional gifts for a 50th wedding anniversary. The word sapphire comes from the Latin word “sapphirus”, which means blue. Sapphires are among the most popular of all colored precious gems. Their versatility creates many jewelry designs that can fit almost any taste – from classic elegance to contemporary styles. They readily combine with other stones and metals to create an extensive range of colors and hues, including blue sapphire engagement rings. Sapphire prices vary depending on their quality, sizes, and colors. A deep-blue sapphire can cost more than 100 times the price of a light blue one of similar size and quality.
Tanzanite vs. Sapphire – Appearance
Sapphire and tanzanite are both in the same corundum family (Al2O3Sio4); therefore, they have many qualities in common – such as hardness (9 on Mohs’ scale) and refractive index 1.77 – which is why it is easy to confuse the two. The basic structural units of these gems are identical, but there are differences between them that make each one unique: one being richer in color saturation than the other. Tanzanite has a refractive index of 1.66, but its saturation is almost twice as high as that of sapphire (1.08). When put side by side and viewed from equal distances, tanzanite appears to have more color even though they have the same mineral content, making it a fascinating gemstone for many collectors. View a few of the rare Tanzanite jewellery here.
Tanzanite vs. Sapphire – Rarity and Price Comparison
Both being such precious minerals, sapphire and tanzanite are rare. But due to the geologic location of their deposits, it is much more difficult to find large quality tanzanites than sapphires since the mines are not as easily developed. The Easily mine produces about 1.6 kg of rough per month; the Namanga mine in Tanzania produced approximately 6.9 mg between 1990-1995. The Zaire Maiwa deposit located in Tanzania’s Kahama district yielded only 3.3 mg during that same period. Tanzanite occurs mostly in small quantities at the earth’s surface. Therefore, it is mined by traditional methods or removed manually from alluvial gravels, meaning that an individual miner has only a small chance of hitting a good pocket. Also, its smaller size and color variation make it difficult to sell. Tanzanite jewellery like tanzanite pendants and tanzanite stud earrings are therefore more valuable than sapphires on the market because supply is less available than demand – but all within reasonable limits, which are not far off from each other.
Tanzanite vs. Sapphire – Color
The color of both stones is blue. However, tanzanite has a much more vivid blue hue than sapphire. The most sought-after colors are shades of purple, ranging from violet to red with a hint of red (violet). Tanzanites appear in almost every imaginable shade of blue, including light sky blue, deep dark blue, and numerous hues in between. Rarely, gems may be yellowish or brownish-blue in color. The Lusaka mine yielded pale tanzanite colored by chrome that was not well received due to its low saturation level (which would make it less favorable for jewelry) but grades up beautifully when exposed to heat treatment.
Tanzanite vs. Sapphire – Hardness, and Durability
The hardness of these two minerals is almost similar (Tanzanite is slightly harder than sapphire) with a Mohs’ scale rating of 9.0 to 9.5. Tanzanite has perfect cleavage, so it breaks under only medium impact at the same pressure as sapphire. However, cutting and shaping tanzanites requires extra care because they are much softer than other colored gems such as ruby or emerald due to their higher water content (6-8%), making them more fragile during rough times treatments in jewelry manufacturing.
Tanzanite vs. Sapphire – Value and Price
The value of tanzanite is high mainly because it is rarer and less available than sapphire. Smaller pieces can be quite valuable, even though prices depend on the gemstone’s quality, size, and color. A sapphire or tanzanite with an oval shape will cost about ten times more than a round-cut stone of similar size and quality. Colors with intense saturation are more expensive as well as larger ones. The retail price for small artificial or man-made tanzanites ranges from about $100-$500 per carat, whereas natural tanzanite’s rarity makes it worth millions per carat. The most precious blue gemstones in the world are derived from Tanzania, East Africa. Large, fine-quality tanzanites are extremely rare and expensive. Tanzanite sells from $75 – $90 per carat for sizes under 1ct. If the gem is blue enough with excellent clarity (SI2 or better), it can sell upwards of $800 per carat!
Tanzanite vs. Sapphire – Status, and Reputation
In the century when sapphires were believed to be a variety of ruby exhibiting, the market underwent a transformation. That is when man-made synthetics and mass-produced gems used for common purposes appeared in jewelry stores in Europe. Then, tanzanite was offered as an alternative. However, because supply was scarce and its quality was not as uniform or guaranteed compared with diamonds, this variety experienced a slower acceptance by the mid-1970s, which started to change as more consumers became aware of the gemstone’s availability. Today, after two centuries of marketing efforts by jewelers specializing in colored stones (such as Tiffany’s founded in 1837), they have won recognition comparable with other precious minerals such as rubies or emeralds. Since its discovery in 1961, it has won the nickname of “The Forever Gem” for being a perfect and timeless stone for any kind of jewelry.
Tanzanite vs. Sapphire – Polishing
The fact that tanzanites are often heated to improve their color (to make them look more like sapphires) is what makes them much less valuable than naturally occurring ones. Some types of artificial tanzanites do not need to be heat-treated (especially those with bluish colors). Nonetheless, this method produces a different type of gem called “synthetic colored” instead of natural. You can aslo have a look at an awesome shungite necklace and shungite bracelet?
Tanzanite is considered to be the most expensive blue gemstone as of today. Although tanzanite is the rarer of the two, prices of colored gemstones increase due to demand- while sapphire prices have dropped in recent years (making large fine quality gems more affordable). If you are ever looking for an investment − if you want your loved one to appreciate the gem’s value and keep it as a family heirloom for generations − Tanzanite is your choice. In addition, if you are looking to buy an exotic gift for someone who appreciates blue stones that can be worn every day without making a big fuss about it- then sapphire is perfect! Sapphire engagement rings – especially large or fancy ring settings can cost much less than similar-sized tanzanite.