TANZANITE IN ALASKA

tanzanite
Tanzanite on sale in Skagway (photo by the author)

There appears to be more Tanzanite in Alaska than in Tanzania! Judging by the range of jewellery and gemstones on offer on the cruise ship from Vancouver exploring the Inner Passage and the many shops lining the streets of Skagway and Juneau in Alaska, Tanzanite is apparently the number one gemstone in vogue at present. Whereas it is good to see a mineral product of Tanzania being exported for sale, the almost profligate quantity of Tanzanite being marketed raises the question, for how long can this continue? Is the Tanzanian economy gaining a fair income from its sale?

Minerals, notably gold and diamonds, have been a major revenue earner for Tanzania for decades. How relevant it was to be able to include some geology alongside and within the chemistry teaching at St Andrew’s College/Minaki Secondary School in the 1960s. I recall a colleague, Matthew Ole-Kasaro, jokingly recall how he and his friends used to play football in his home Arusha region with pebbles of minerals that by 1970 were becoming recognised as semi-precious stones. For more information on Tanzanite, see the website: www.tanzanitefoundation.org
David and Jackie Morgan

A new museum called the ‘Tanzanite Experience’ has been opened in Arusha. It is the first ever facility dedicated to Tanzanite which is found only in Manyara Region. The museum will collect, document, preserve, exhibit and interpret material connected with Tanzanite mining. Interactive media will be deployed to present the fascinating story of the rare violet-blue gemstone including sophisticated processing, cutting and polishing, all of which are being done within the country. Tanzanite One Limited, the largest miner of the rare gemstone, is supporting the project – Guardian.

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