Tanzanite Synthetics and Imitations

by Lapigems Gem Company 22. December 2012 23:16
A discussion of the different synthetics and imitations of Tanzanite

One question we are often asked on our “Ask a Gemologist” forum is how to tell if a Tanzanite is real and if there are fakes out there that buyers should be aware of. This is a very pertinent question, particularly in this age of gemstone treatments. Fortunately, Tanzanite has not been targeted the way stones like Sapphire have for extensive undisclosed treatments. Ways in which Sapphires can be extensively chemically and physically altered to improve their appearance have been around for decades now and more methods are always being developed, particularly in Thailand, where a great deal of the rough is cut. Fortunately Tanzanite is not in the same position. However, there are factors to be aware of.


Firstly, whilst Tanzanite has never been successfully synthesized (a synthetic is a lab created, manmade version of the natural which has the same chemical and physical properties as a natural), a synthetic Forsterite has been produced in the last decade in Russia which produces an imitation which closely resembles Tanzanite, although only the lower/medium grades of Tanzanite. Some unscrupulous sellers have unscrupulously sold it as Tanzanite in the past. As a gemologist, it is easy to identify this imposter using several tests, chiefly the refractometer. Synthetic Forsterite has a refractive index of 1.63- 1.67 which natural Tanzanite is 1.685-1.707.

Similarly, a useful tool called a Hanneman Filter easily separates out the forsterite as it shows up green in the filter as opposed to the orange-pink natural Tanzanite will show. However, as a layman without gemological tools at your disposal, there is a property of the synthetic that makes it identifiable using a simple loupe. Synthetic Forsterite has a very high birefringence. Without getting too technical, this means that the stone can exhibit “double refraction”. As a layman you can spot this by looking closely at the back facets with a loupe. Look through the table and focus on the pavilion facets. They may appear as if they are doubled up. This is a clear sign of a synthetic forsterite as natural Tanzanite does not have a high birefringence and as such will not display this effect.


The other factor to be aware of in Tanzanite is the more recent attempt by unscrupulous sellers to coat lower grade Tanzanite with a light coating of cobalt, which tends to improve the look of the color. Whilst this practice is not widely used, it is important to be aware of it. This article in our Article Center looks at this in more detail : http://www.lapigems.com/Articles/Gemstone-Treatments-Coating-Chemical.aspx

Buying Tanzanite should be an exciting exercise, as you are purchasing something beautiful and rare. However, it is important to be informed of the pitfalls out there and to be able to sidestep them as an informed buyer.


Lapigems Gem Company

Tags: , , ,

What Exactly is "Red Flash" in Tanzanite?

by Lapigems Gem Company 3. October 2012 05:55
A description of what the red flash effect in Tanzanite really is.

One of the most common questions we get in our award winning “Ask a Gemologist” panel is “what is red flash in tanzanite and is it important? Many jewelers today are using the phenomenon to promote the “mood changing” abilities of Tanzanite and the phrase is now in the public domain in a big way. Many people are confused by the terminology or simply disappointed if a Tanzanite they have purchased seemed to have plenty of red flash in the jeweler’s store but none when they are looking at it at home.  

Red Flash is simply a function of Tanzanite’s trichroism. To explain further – Tanzanite os one of the gem kingdom’s only trichroic gemstones. As such it displays three different colors on three different axes. This article in our article center goes into much more depth on this   

Tanzanite’s reddish violet axis is more visible in a warmer light whilst its blue axis is more visible in a cooler light. This article explains how light works in gems for a better understanding of the issue.   

The result is that under a warm light source Tanzanite displays a much more violet hue with “flashes” of red and pink coming from the violet axis. All Tanzanite has this phenomenon and it does not affect its value in any way. As a rule, the deeper the color saturation of the stone, the more pronounced is the red flash effect.  

Lapigems Gem Company

Tags: ,

The Problem with Gem Cutting

by Lapigems Gem Company 29. August 2012 04:46
The risks and pitfalls in cutting rare gemstones like Tanzanite

When you see a beautifully cut gemstone in a piece of jewelry, its beauty can be captivating. However, very rarely is the sheer skill and risk involved in cutting rare gems appreciated. .

Cutting rare gemstones like tanzanite can be a risky business indeed. So many things can go wrong along the way for the gem cutter. He starts with a simple piece of rough which can be very unexciting to look at and is faced with the task of transforming it into something exceptional. Preforming is the first stage after the rough has been carefully evaluated for inclusions and to ascertain which shape would be best to cut. This is a risky stage as the rough is preformed by hand using a spinning faceting disk. Heat is generated at this point and often non-visible stress fractures can exist within a stone which can cause the stone to shatter or break at this stage.

As you may have guessed , this post is inspired by one such incident in our cutting offices recently which highlights the risks. We were cutting a beautiful and very rare piece of orange Tanzanite which promised to yield over 8 carats of sparkling splendor. Instead, during the performing process the stone, previously flawless started producing thin cracks as we watched. A surreal experience as there is nothing you can do about it. The non-visible stress fracture within the stone, caused by the crystal forming under great pressure, yielded to the heat generated by the performing process and “crazed” – cracked in several different directions.

This problem is not limited to colored gemstones and Diamonds often cause great distress by performing the same trick on their beleaguered cutters! So next time to are looking at a beautiful faceted gemstone, whether Diamond or colored stone, appreciate the great skill and pure miracle that it has survived several hundred million years under pressure and heat in the earth and then successfully navigated the path through the cutting process!

Read more about how gems are cut in our article on Gemstone Cutting

Lapigems Gem Company

Tags: , ,

Tanzania Gem Show a Success. Tucson watch out!

by Lapigems Gem Company 3. May 2012 07:17


Whilst the title of this post is very much “tongue-in-cheek” as obviously the mighty Tucson Gem Show is under no threat from this fledgling show in Africa, we feel that it is the beginning of something that could develop into something great. On April 26th to 29th 2012, the Tanzanian government sponsored a reincarnation of the Gem & Jewelry Show which was first attempted almost a decade ago. Unlike its predecessor however, it was a success. As one of the world’s largest producers of colored gemstones, Tanzania is aiming to secure its place as one of the world’s premier destinations for fine gem dealers. This event went a long way to cementing that process.   




Lapigems was well represented by Sheelagh Zagoritis, our jewelery designer and one of our directors. Sheelagh’s experience in the trade stretches back over 30 years and the show was a great place for her to re-establish and continue long held relationships with influential players in the gem industry from the USA, Germany, Thailand and India.   

The show was well attended and well represented with the World ICA (International Colored Gemstone Association) President, Mr Wilson Yuen and AGTA(American Gem Trade Association) CEO Mr Douglas K. Hucker making keynote addresses.  




There was a great deal of material on show from various dealers from Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique and Congo. The majority of the material was not of the quality we search out but we did pick up some special pieces like this wonderful Merelani Mint Green Garnet fresh from the tanzanite mines and some wonderful Aquamarine.   



The show was generally considered a success, despite the usual teething problems associated with new events. It will be interesting to see how it continues to develop over coming years.  


Lapigems Gem Company



Gem Industry Anticipates Exciting future for Tanzanite

by Lapigems Gem Company 12. April 2012 05:25
Tanzanite's future is bright. This entry explores the reasons why.

Change has been building in the Tanzanite industry over the past couple of years. We have highlighted the rise of emerging markets like China in past posts, commenting on the proliferation of Chinese buyers in the local market recently. This is a symptom of the larger change that has been engulfing the industry of late. Traditionally, western markets have purchased the bulk of Tanzanite production, harking back to the late 1960’s when Tiffany & company first unleashed this remarkable gemstone upon the world. Whilst western markets are still heavily influential in the Tanzanite industry, emerging markets such as China have been awakening and are becoming more involved each passing year.

The impact from this is profound. Firstly, the traditional markets in the west are now competing with the newcomers for production, particularly the finest stones. This has had the effect of creating inflation in the market where it wouldn’t have existed before. When the financial crash of 2008 hit the world, western markets still dominated the Tanzanite industry. As a result, the crash and resulting drop in demand in the west had a strong impact on Tanzanite prices. Whilst the very finest, rarest grades were not affected, medium grades lost a substantial part of their value. As the recession has worn on, prices had remained stagnant until this past 2 years, when price inflation started creeping back into the sector. Dealers who dealt exclusively with the west couldn’t understand where the inflation was coming from as their experience was that demand in the west was fairly flat. Those that had a wider reach however, understood fully that other influential buyers had entered the market and the increasing demand from these countries was behind the upward push in prices.

Overall, this is good for the industry as it creates a hedge to price deflation during recessionary times as well as new driver for growth and price inflation which will give investors in this beautiful stone every reason to be excited. Tanzanite’s “eggs are no longer in one basket” as the saying goes! Richland Resources’ Gavin Pearce and TanzaniteOne sightholders Colorjewels and AG Color are confident that demand for tanzanite, the purple-blue gemstone that has captured the fascination of jewellers and aficionados worldwide, will continue to gain momentum in 2012. More on this topic in this Jewelry News Asia article.

Lapigems Gem Company

Tags: , ,

Tsavorite Mining - A Renaissance?

by Lapigems Gem Company 6. February 2012 04:50

This entry is a discussion of  Dr Cedric Simonet’s recent article in the ICA Quarterly “In Color”. The article, entitled “Potential for Modernization of Small Scale Gemstone Miners – the Case of the Tsavorite Mines in Southeast Kenya” is republished in part in our Article Center with kind permission of Dr Cedric Simonet. The full article can be read on the ICA website. The extract can be read in our Article Center - Tsavorite article.

Dr Simonet’s article is enlightening as to the current state of mining extraction methods here in Kenya and also highlights the reason for Tsavorite’s hereunto limited penetration of the jewelry market despite its superb qualities as a gemstone, namely low production.

Two factors could change the status quo and propel Tsavorite forward to its rightful place as the premier green gemstone. The first is the entry of a large scale miner into the fray, bringing with it the ability to extract larger quantities of the stone annually. The second is the modernization of the many existing small scale miners to make their activities more productive. The combined effect would be to increase the supply to a hungry market and to stabilize supply. These are the 2 limiting factors currently restricting the gemstone at present.

There is some evidence that both these things are starting to happen. Tanzanite One, the largest and most sophisticated miner of Tanzanite has recently incorporated Tsavorite One as a subsidiary and has purchased the rights to a large part of the Tanzanian based Tsavorite reef. Secondly, via various bodies, including the Kenya chamber of Mines and governmental efforts, progress is being made towards providing small scale miners with the ability to obtain low interest loans to invest in machinery, coupled with further education in mining methods. This is very much in its infancy now but the signs are very encouraging. Tsavorite lovers and investors watch this space!

Lapigems Gem Company


Tags: ,

Tanzanite Sales Strong Despite Market Turmoil

by Lapigems Gem Company 10. August 2011 00:24
Tanzanite sales remain strong despite recent market turmoil. could this mean it is being regarded as a safe haven asset?

Watching the news and reading the papers has become a depressing experience this past few months as we bear witness to a litany of pressures on the financial system. Gold has hit a record high of $1700 per ounce and the Swiss Franc has been strengthening rapidly as people rush for perceived safe havens. It is perhaps as a result of this that Tanzanite sales have continued to rise through this period – it is increasingly being viewed as a “safe haven” tangible asset.

TanzaniteOne, the largest miner of the beautiful blue gemstone has just published very strong second quarter results showing a marked increase in both production and sales. This is the second quarter in a row showing strong growth. The first quarter of 2011 reported production of 609,737 carats of tanzanite, representing a year on year increase of 8 percent. Sales in contrast, rose 48 percent. In the second quarter, they reported a further 57 percent increase in sales on quarter 1.

This increase may also have something to do with China’s growing love affair with the stone. In the past two years, we have noticed a marked increase in the number of Chinese buyers in the local market. This could prove good news for investors in Tanzanite, holding fine pieces. An ever-growing market in the East will only serve to bolster already high demand in the West, which should continue to have a strong impact on value.

Further Reading on this Topic

Daily News Article "Tanzanite Sales Go Up"

National Jeweler - "Tanzanite Prices on the Rise"

Fine Tanzanite in Lapigems block D Private Collection 


Lapigems Gem Company

Tags: , ,


Sapphire - Stone of Royalty

by Lapigems Gem Company 19. May 2011 06:07
Sapphire had a recent boost with the royal wedding of William and Kate and the attention given to her blue Sapphire and Diamond engagement ring. However, there are many more colors in the Sapphire rainbow.

Sapphire recently got a big boost with the revelation that Prince William proposed to Kate with his mother’s blue Sapphire and Diamond engagement ring.

However, the fact is that Sapphire is not only blue, it comes in a myriad of different and striking colors – in fact virtually every color under the sun. All Sapphire is the species corundum and it is the trace minerals within it that give it its color (more on how gems get their color in our article Gemstones and Light). Blue Sapphire has iron and titanium in it which makes it blue but the same stone with no titanium in it, containing only iron would look yellow and if it contained chromium it may look pink.

A particularly popular color is Yellow. Most Yellow Sapphire, or Yellow Fancy Sapphire as they are properly called, is found in the far east. Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) produces a lot of the yellows on the market today. Most of these are an orange-yellow. Kenya, by contrast produces some amazing canary yellows which do not have the orange element in them and have instead a hint of green. This gives them a very crisp and sharp color not found in most of the far eastern stones.

Additionally, a large proportion of the stones in the far east are routinely treated (heated, beryllium treated) to enhance their appearance. The yellow sapphires from the Kenyan deposit don’t need any treatment at all. They are clean, bright and their color is gorgeous. This is what sets them apart – pure, natural untreated sapphires are hard to get nowadays.

The Kenyan deposit produces very little these days owing to its proximity to the Somali border and the resultant insecurity caused by roaming bands of Somali militia called “Shifta” by the locals. Most stones mined there are found by explorers and adventurers venturing into the area for a short while and then getting out. We have close links with some of these people who bring us their production. A truly exciting gemstone!

Browse our collection of exquisite Yellow Sapphires.


Lapigems Gem Company



Elizabeth Taylor's $150 million Jewelry Collection

by Lapigems Gem Company 14. April 2011 22:44
The famous Elizabeth Taylor gem and jewelry collection is go on auction at Christies for a reported $150 million.

It’s official. Christie's auction house will be auctioning off Elizabeth Taylor's renowned jewelry collection, as well as some of her art, clothing and other personal memorabilia. The international auction house announced April 9 that it has reached an agreement with Taylor’s family and is planning a series of upcoming auctions — dates will be announced later this spring.


Luxury Jewels of Beverly Hills President/CEO Peter Sedghi told People Magazine, "She had a collection like I've never seen before, and she knew exactly what every one was -- what the diamonds were, the quality. But it was more for her; it was ... the history behind it. A lot of them had sentimental value." Taylor's jewelry collection, which includes pieces from Bulgari, Cartier, Tiffany and Boucheron, is estimated to be worth $150 million. Some spectacular Tanzanites are thought to be included in the collection.


Most of the iconic movie star’s gems were gifts from the men who adored her. Richard Burton, whom she met on the set of 1963’s Cleopatra, especially loved to surprise her with emerald, ruby and diamond baubles. “Richard gave me some spectacular gifts on birthdays and Christmas, but in truth he’d use any excuse to give me a piece of jewelry,” Taylor wrote in her 2002 book My Love Affair With Jewelry. Taylor died last month at age 79. Proceeds from the sale will likely benefit her AIDS foundation and amfAR, the charity she helped found near the beginning of the epidemic in 1985. 


Tanzanite Prices Rise

by Lapigems Gem Company 22. March 2011 21:48
Tanzanite Prices rise following a successful Tucson show.

Following a very successful Tucson show this February, Tanzanite prices have surged by 15 – 20%. Demand was very high at the show, especially for fine pieces and supply was very low. Being based at the source, we have experienced first hand how few fine Tanzanites are being mined as a proportion of the total production in recent months. We have been predicting a large price rise for 6 months now and have been resisting price pressures but the tide is now overwhelming and prices are rising across the board.   

 Reasons for the Rise

As the western world hauls itself out of the depths of the recession, pent up demand from consumers has gathered pace. People who have been yearning to buy Tanzanite, but have been paying down credit card debt or simply exercising restraint, find themselves in 2011 in a better position to make the purchases they have been wanting to make for 2 years. This demand has unleashed itself upon an unprepared market. Jewelers have been buying very cautiously throughout the recession and find themselves entering 2011 with low stocks. Suddenly they are presented with a surge in demand and they are struggling to increase inventories to service their customers. However, they are finding fine Tanzanite harder than ever to come by and the resulting rush to buy has forced prices up quickly and ferociously as they chase the few stones there are in the market.   

How does this affect your Collection?

Clearly, this is good news for those holding Tanzanite collections, especially for those who purchased during the recessionary period. We predict prices to continue rising hereon out, barring of course any return of recessionary sentiment. We will continue to buy diligently the very finest 1% and we will not compromise despite the difficulty in obtaining the quality we are known for. We will continue to hold our prices as they are for the near future for the benefit of our members, as we absorb more expensive rough into our vault. However, the mitigating effects of older stock will decline in the next few months and we may be forced to follow the market trend in coming months.  

Lapigems Gem Company


Tanzanite Selection and Sorting

by Lapigems Gem Company 20. January 2011 05:05
Cherry picking out the finest Block D Tanzanites at Lapigems Gem Company

Tanzanites in our online collection are cherry-picked from many thousands of carats that we see each month. We are incredibly selective in this regard and stones have to be of the very finest pedigree in order to qualify for the collection. This month, we have been privileged to see much of the mines’ production and from 1020 carats of cut pieces we selected 10 only for our online collection. This gives a good idea of the rarity of the very finest Tanzanites.The picture below shows a typical parcel after cutting. 

Perhaps one piece from here may make the grade for our online collection. The rest will be sold on to manufacturers.

Sorting takes into account many factors but color grade is the principal one in defining a Tanzanite’s quality. Highly intense, deep color saturations are rare, especially in small stones and we seek these out voraciously. However, clearly a fine color is not everything and clarity is important, as Tanzanite is classified as a Type 1 gemstone by the GIA, and as such is expected to be high clarity. All the pieces in our collection are flawless. Lastly, cut is vital, as it is responsible for relaying the beauty of the stone to the eye. Poor cuts are not acceptable.  

Stone sorters at Lapigems have over 100 years of experience between them and use their deep understanding of gem qualities to select out the very finest for Lapigems members.    

Lapigems Gem Company

Tags: , ,

Prince William Proposes in Kenya .... and with a Colored Stone

by Lapigems Gem Company 16. November 2010 23:14

Just as his mother before him had learned that she had become Queen of England whilst she was in Kenya, Prince William proposed to his long term girlfriend Kate Middleton whilst he too was in Kenya.

Whilst staying at the 55,000 acre Lewa Private Estate, William ostensibly flew Kate high up the slopes of Mt Kenya to propose, to a lake at over 12,000 feet, close to the famed ice caps. By choosing Kenya and a Sapphire Prince William has eloquently joined our 2 loves – this beautiful, wild part of the world and the majesty of colored stones.

The engagement ring is actually Princess Diana’s and features a stunning blue sapphire oval surrounded in Diamonds. The same design would be extraordinary using a Tanzanite center stone.  


News Report on the Engagement


Tags: , , ,

The Recessionary Economics of Gemstones

by Lapigems Gem Company 16. November 2010 05:39
A cursory look at the economics of precious stones, with particular regard to inflationary economic environments

There are not many people who would argue that the present economic situation and outlook for the future seems very confusing. On the one hand, there are proponents of the view that economic recovery is well underway and the good times are just around the corner. On the other, there are an equal number who subscribe to the more pessimistic view that a “double-dip” recession is inevitable and that inflation and hyperinflation are looming on the horizon. Certainly, the speed with which many of the developed world’s central banks are printing money does give pause for thought. We had the much vaunted Quantitative Easing program which dumped billions into banks round the world and now QE2 looks set to launch too. There seems to be a very concerted push to force money through the system by whatever means necessary.

Now, depending on which school of economic theory you come from, the general rule of thumb is that a massive increase in supply, without a corresponding increase in demand, causes value to drop. Hence, in the case of money, the value of money drops when banks print money in this fashion. The textbook case is, of course, Zimbabwe, where the policies of Robert Mugabe caused the most severe case of hyperinflation on record. The Zimbabwe Central Bank printed a One Hundred Trillion Zimbabwe Dollar note by the time it effectively scrapped its currency in April 2009 and allowed foreign currencies to be used instead. This is all fairly logical as "easy money" should lead to inflation. However, in the case of the US economy, the broadest measure of money, M3, is declining at a rate not seen since the Great Depression. There is no money velocity (speed with which money moves through the economy) and deflation appears to be a more looming threat than inflation at present. Indeed, this is reflected in the fact that Consumer Price Indexes are declining, not increasing. This is the basis behind a new round of Quantitative Easing – a further attempt to increase money velocity by pushing money out of the banks and through the economy.

Why is Gold Outperfoming Most Asset Classes?

However, if we are in a deflationary environment, why is gold outperforming most assets? Gold prices are headed for record highs. Traditionally, gold values increase with inflation. The last great run up in gold occurred during the inflationary 1970's, when stagflation in the USA caused massive inflation. Mortgage rates headed for the 20% mark and even gasoline was scarce. This does not seem to have any resemblance to the economic situation today. During that period, there was a direct correlation between precious metals and diamond and colored gemstone prices. As gold increased, so did tangible assets. The answer to this anomaly could be that gold is also regarded as a “safe haven” or crisis hedge. In times of uncertainty and/or national crisis, people fear that their assets may be seized and that the currency may become worthless. They see gold as a solid asset which will always buy food or transportation. Thus, in times of great uncertainty, the demand for gold rises. The stock markets function upon confidence and when confidence disappears, markets collapse. Recent crashes like the one on 6th May 2010 where the Dow crashed over 900 points in a matter of hours create a feeling of instability and people lose confidence in the system. This, coupled with declining real estate markets, has influenced many to invest a small portion of their wealth in something portable, private and rare.

Gemstones as a Tangible Asset Class

Certainly, gold has been a huge beneficiary of the current sentiment, however a certain smaller percentage of people are also buying gemstones as a hedge. Collecting fine gems is a relatively new phenomenon in the USA. However, throughout history, examples abound of instances where gems have saved people in times of political and economic crises. Some notable examples are Nazi Germany, Vietnam, Iran, and Hong Kong and even when Imperialist Russia collapsed, gemstones carried by escaping imperialists enabled them to start a new life in other countries. Political instability, high taxation and currency devaluation, have meant that may people in parts of Asia, South America and even Europe, have long been aware of the significant role that gemstones play in conserving capital. Fine quality diamonds and colored stones have long shown themselves to be excellent long-term hedges against economic uncertainty and currency depreciation. Rare, fine gemstones represent an excellent and highly portable repository of value. Certainly, this concept seems to be bearing itself out in the market - international collectors and investors have pushed colored diamonds and colored gemstones to record highs during this economic climate at each major auction. In view of the state of affairs and uncertainty of our times, it seems wise to research other areas in which to invest capital. Most financial advisors will suggest that a percentage of one’s portfolio be in hard assets, you could do worse than consider colored gemstones.  

Lapigems Gem Company

Tags: , ,

TanzaniteOne begins Mining of Tsavorite

by Lapigems Gem Company 20. September 2010 03:21
The largest Tanzanite miner TanzaniteOne has begun mining Tsavorite. Could this mean a market rennaissance for the green gem?


Tsavorite has always mesmerized its beholder, ever since it was discovered in the late 1960’s. It holds all the attributes of a world class gemstone and gemologically it compares very favorably to its green counterpart, Emerald. It is brighter, due to a high Refractive Index (1.74) in contrast to Emerald’s relatively sleepy appearance as a result of a lower RI (1.58). It has double the dispersion of Emerald and is rarer.

However, it has not had the meteoric rise in the marketplace’s affections that Tanzanite has. Principally, this is due to the fact that Tsavorite is rarely found in fine qualities, especially in larger sizes. Even fine 2 carat pieces are difficult to get. This has made it a difficult gemstone to promote in the market. Jewelers want to be able to source a stone for a client if they suggest it. Hence, Emerald, being more available and plentiful in the market has always been a better choice as a green gemstone for a jeweler trying to make a sale.

The price of fine Tsavorite is approximately a quarter of fine Emerald. This premium is mostly as a result of Emerald’s cache – the fact that it has been known to man for hundreds of years and its name evokes certain preconceived values. Tsavorite, being rarer was only discovered less than half a century ago and doesn’t have this advantage. Similarly, its penetration into the marketplace was severely hampered by the very rarity that makes it so desireable as it was little known to the public. Obviously, this situation has changed much over the years and Tsavorite is much better recognized now, but its rarity is still holding it back in terms of achieving its full potential.


The above graph, sourced from JCK Magazine illustrates the situation. On all counts, except public awareness and current price, Tsavorite outdoes Emerald. As anyone conversant with basic economic theory will attest, public awareness affects demand which directly affects price. Hence, Tsavorite’s price point could be very positively affected by an increase in public awareness.

This may be about to happen. TanzaniteOne – the largest Tanzanite Miner and marketer has recently begun a large Tsavorite mining project in Tanzania. Under the name TsavoriteOne Mining Ltd, they have bought up mining concessions from Kirkwood Resources and Green Hill Mining Ltd and combined them to make the largest Tsavorite mine, with a licence area covering 100 square kilometers. With plans to invest heavily in the mining and marketing of the gemstone, TsavoriteOne has the ability to remove this last impediment to Tsavorite’s accession in the marketplace and make the gem more available. Public exposure to Tsavorite is about to increase hugely. With public exposure comes an increase in demand which could lead to an increase in price. Tsavorite lovers and investors may want to watch this development with interest.

How does this affect Lapigems?

Tanzanite One has clearly followed the established De Beers business model to date and there is no reason to suggest that their foray into Tsavorite mining and marketing will be any different. This model is a classic "pull marketing" approach where demand is created in the consumer market by huge publicity and promotion and the creation of a cache for the gem. The "Be Born to Tanzanite" campaign that sought to make Tanzanite the gem to buy at the birth of your first child is a classic duplication of De Beers' very successful drive to make Diamonds synonymous with engagements, hence creating an enduring and profoundly deep market for the gem. A similar approach can be expected for Tsavorite, thus creating the cache that Tsavorite lacks in the marketplace and removing Emerald's last trump card over it.

For a specialist company like Lapigems, this is an exciting development. We are uniquely positioned to take advantage of this for the benefit of our worldwide clientele. Tsavorite One only controls a very small proportion of the total Tsavorite mining area, and Lapigems has close relationships with the other small scale miners in the region, meaning our ability to source the very finest Tsavorites will remain unhampered but the stone's overall popularity is set to soar. Additionally, the Tanzanian deposits generally produce a lighter color with a strong yellow modifer, whereas the original Kenyan deposits in Tsavo produce a more pure green, meaning a higher percentage of the very finest stones will still remain on this side of the border. 

Further Reading on this Topic

Mining Weekly Article
Tsavorite One Press Release   

Lapigems Gem Company

Tags: , ,

Tanzania Bans Export of Rough Tanzanite

by Lapigems Gem Company 22. August 2010 12:49
The Tanzanian Government recently passed a law, as an extension of the Mining Act, banning the export of rough Tanzanite. The government hopes this will increase investment at home in cutting and polishing and bring back more revenue to the gemstone's home country.

The Tanzanian Government recently passed a law, as an extension of the Mining Act, banning the export of rough Tanzanite. The government hopes this will increase investment at home in cutting and polishing and bring back more revenue to the gemstone's home country.
Until the law was passed, the vast majority of Tanzanite was exported rough to countries such as India, where the processing was done. These processing countries earned most of the revenue from the sale of Tanzanite, whilst Tanzania earned only a small percentage. The government hopes the ban will encourage the growth of processing facilites in East Africa and also give a boost to miners. Mining provides direct employment for around 14,000 workers in Tanzania at present.

How does this affect you and your Tanzanite collection?

We realize that many of our clients have invested carefully and at length in their Tanzanite collections and some are concerned as to how this ban may affect their value.
It is difficult to predict exactly how the ban may play out in the market. What is certain is that the supply side of the economic equation will be affected. Tanzania does not have the ability to process anywhere near the volume of Tanzanite that was previously being processed abroad in the past few years. Hence, the likelihood of a substantial decrease of supply to the world market is high. If we are to follow traditional economic theory, when there is a significant decrease in supply and demand levels remain the same, price increases. Hence, there is a distinct possibility of an imminent price hike in the near future if these fundamentals prove to hold true.
However, an examination of the current state of the Tanzanite market as it stands now, throws up some curveballs for consideration. The above will only hold true if demand levels remain the same or even increase. In the current uncertainty gripping the world, there is no guarantee of that. Certainly in 2009, at the height of the "Great Recession," prices of medium grade Tanzanites almost halved as supply far outstripped demand. However, interestingly, prices of the finest 1% remained solid. The reason for this was simple, the supply of these very rare pieces was rock bottom - there are very few being produced. Hence a drop in demand did not affect the price as supply was so low and demand in the past few years has far outsripped supply. Secondly, more and more people, worried about the effects of inflation and large national fiscal deficits on their currencies, opted to buy tangible investments. Gold was the biggest beneficiary (the gold price is the highest it has been in decades). Tanzanite in the finest grades was another beneficiary. Many savvy investors chose to put a portion of their investable capital into carefully selected, very fine Tanzanites. This increase in specialist demand also had an impact on price.
The lesson from the last few years is clear and is applicable to this latest development. The ban on rough export will likely only really affect the price of the finest goods. Stocks of medium grades are still very high in India and other cutting centres and the ban will likely only marginally affect these goods. The rarest 1% however, will become even harder to find as the old channels of distribution close up. This will likely affect the price upwards, despite the prevailing soft market conditions.

Further Reading on this Topic

Bloomberg Report on the Ban

News Service Report on the Ban

Lapigems Gem Company

Tags: , , , ,