Romancing the Stone

Tanzanite: Mount Kilimanjaro's Crown Jewel

Tanzanite is the unattainable romantic crush of gemstones—the blue-violet rock (which can appear to be different colors depending on the light) is 1,000 times more rare than a diamond. Discovered just over 40 years ago in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in northeast Tanzania, tanzanite was noted by a Tiffany & Co. gemologist as “the most exciting event of the century.” Although originally called “zoisite,” the significance of the jewel’s singular origin compelled Tiffany to rename it and, in an early advertising campaign, to use the slogan, “There are only two places in the world you can find tanzanite: Tanzania and Tiffany.” Regardless of its scarcity—geologists estimate the source will be depleted in a mere 15 years—tanzanite continues to fascinate a wealth of designers. The late Alexander McQueen’s jewelry designer, Shaun Leane, often worked the stone into his edgy, contemporary pieces, and classic jewelers such as Asprey create chandelier earrings and engagement rings with the superlative jewel. Theo Fennell, whose flagship store is based in southwest London, was one of the first jewelry designers to use tanzanite, and is now renowned for using the exotic stone. The spectacular trellis bracelet featured above, courtesy of the designer, sees tanzanite gems surrounded by studded diamonds, and set in 18-carat white gold. The price tag? A cool £95,000 ($140,000).
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