Colored Stones: Tanzanite’s Global Presence & More

Super Blue

JCK has been seeing plenty of blue and purple hues in finished jewelry this year, but none more so than Paraiba tourmaline from Brazil, copper-bearing Mozambique and/or Nigerian-origin tourmaline, and tanzanite.

Hayley Henning, executive director of the Tanzanite Foundation in New York City, says she has been telling tanzanite’s story—“its single source, limited supply, and beautiful color”—to anyone who’ll listen since she took on her role in 2007.

Besides being pretty, the blue-violet gem changes the lives of residents in mining areas, Henning says. Miner TanzaniteOne has built clinics and schools, provides fresh drinking water and employment opportunities, bankrolls teachers for schools, and pays for students’ books.

Strand of 324.3 cts. t.w. Nigerian tourmaline; $38,916 (triple key); Robert Bentley, NYC; 212-302-4846;

As for the Windex-blue paraiba tourmaline, much of what’s on the market now isn’t actually Brazilian material (though it’s often referred to as such). Instead, it’s electric blue tourmaline from Nigeria and/or Mozambique, with plenty of copper-bearing attributes that lend it a neon hue.

Robert Bentley, of the eponymous New York City–based gemstone firm, has been selling Nigerian tourmaline that he acquired five years ago and says his supply is nearly exhausted: Just 50 cabochons and four beaded strands—two of which he had cut this spring in his factory in Teófilo Otoni, Brazil—remain. “Nothing is as vibrant and beautiful as this neon color—it makes people happy,” he says. “It’s like the Beatles of gemstones; it’s a very uplifting material.”

For more colorful gemstone talk

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