FIVE hundred and eighty-five million years ago, in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, Mother Nature yielded her most precious of all gems.
As testimony to its rarity it remained unknown until 1967 when it was discovered at what is the still the world’s only known source – Tanzania.
Significant tectonic plate activity and intense heat formed Mount Kilimanjaro, and in this process, the Mozambique Orogenic Belt (one of the most mineral-rich places on Earth), was formed as well.
It is believed that it was during this process that rough tanzanite was formed. The process is known as regional metamorphism, and can be explained as follows: when tectonic plates collide with one another, the igneous rocks (rocks formed through the cooling and solidification of magma / lava) of each tectonic plate are morphed into one another by means of extreme pressure.
The rocks reach near melting-point, and when this happens, they produce beautiful crystal structures. In this process, gems are formed, essentially, from the coming together of two plates. Each of the two plates can contain a variety of different minerals, and because of this, combinations that are specific to one area, may occur.
This explains why tanzanite is only found in one area in the world. The morphing together of two tectonic plates in this specific area of Tanzania resulted in a particular mix that has not been discovered anywhere else in the world.
Among the local people of Tanzania, various stories and myths exist as to how this precious gem came about. It is popularly believed that tanzanite was formed by an act of God, when he used lightning strikes to set the surrounding hills alight.
After the fires burnt out and the earth cooled down, the rocks deep inside the earth turned blue. The gem is also believed to carry unique spiritual properties, with local Tanzanian people believing that tanzanite heightens spiritual growth.
Tanzanite rings are often worn for protection, and for the gems alleged calming and soothing properties. Due to the uniqueness of its formation, its rarity, and its unrivalled beauty, tanzanite has become a sought-after gem all around the world.
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