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Incorporating tanzanite

Was: General cleaning dirty jewelry

I was surprised to read that tanzanite was not a good stone for
jewelry, especially since I have in front of me an advertisement in
Departures Magazine (published by American Express) featuring
Tanzanite. There is a tanzanite and titanium earrings for $65,000; a
Tanzanite pendant for $54,000; a pear-shaped tanzanite ring for
$56,250; and a tanzanite ring that is so expensive you have to
request the price.

I wonder how they have treat these to make them wearable?? It would
indeed be inconceivable to me to think that one would wear the rings
for anything but the most special of events, but then it is
inconceivable to me to think of paying that much for a ring, or
earrings. They are truly beautiful. I love tanzanite and have a few
small stones. Hmm, maybe I should make them into rings - I could
probably get $50 easy. :>)?

Frog Pond Studio
in beautiful upstate South Carolina

A number of years ago, I was approached to make a tanzanite and
aquamarine engagement ring for a couple. After explaining the
downside of the stone’s durability especially for daily wear, I
showed them some color shift sapphires that had a similar blue
violet color range. I sold them on the sapphire/aqua concept, and the
ring brought me several new clients (all grad students at Yale) over
the next few years.

Tanzanite is not a good stone for rings but it is fine for any other
type of jewelry. Tanzanite is fragile and subject to easy breakage
and hence isn’t good for a ring that might get whacked. On the other
hand, opal isn’t good for rings either but that hasn’t stopped my
customers from wanting it in rings (which I sell to them with a
whole potful of warnings). The difference however is that there is no
other stone like opal on the market so if you want that in a ring
that’s all you can have. However there are many sapphires that are
similar in color to tanzanites and they are much more durable so
there really isn’t an excuse in this case.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambrige, MA 02140

hi carolyn in the beautiful upstate

tanzanite is quite soft for a gem and sort of fragile. in protected
settings such a necklace pendant and ear rings the stones should do
well. in a ring with a lot of metal surrounding the stone to protect
it, then probably ok, especially if used only for special occasions.
if departures magazine adveritser can get someone to pay those
prices, let me know who is purchasing them, i have several tanzanite
stones in inventory.

tanzanite can be a very beautiful stone, if good color, clarity and
cut are present. however, much tanzanite on the current market is
light colored and has many inclusions.

have a great day

john (in the beautiful upstate of south carolina)
John Atwell Rasmussen
Rasmussen Gems and Jewelry

Hi Daniel,

The difference however is that there is no other stone like opal on
the market so if you want that in a ring that's all you can have. 

Another point to consider is availability. There’s lots more opal
around than quality tanzanite. True, super good opal is scarce, but
even mediocre tanzanite is in a smaller supply.


I would have thought that in the jewellery community at least, it is
a well known fact that tanzanite is fairly fragile with a Moh’s
hardness rating of approximately 6.5 and as such it is inadvisable
for use in rings and bracelets but better suited to
necklaces/pendants and earrings.

Tanzanite is beautiful gem and for as long as it’s available it will
continue to be made into all kinds of jewellery. If it sells,
jewellers will make it. It’s down to the more scrupulous jewellers
who care about their customers and their own reputations to inform
the customer of its limitations/do’s and don’ts and how to care for
their tanzanite jewellery. Less scrupulous jewellers will be happy
to advertise the stone’s good points to make a sale but conveniently
omit mentioning its limitations.

The same can be said for any stone really, especially the other
fragile stones such as opal and turquoise. I’ve learned tons of
"stuff" since joining Orchid and I think one of the biggest lessons
I’ve learned from the good folks on here is customer care -
cultivating good customer relationships and thus one’s own
reputation. Arming customers with all they need to know about their
jewellery is one of those things that will likely make a new
customer a repeat customer.


Hi Folks,

I happen to live on the cruise ship circuit in southeast Alaska,
where for whatever reason they push tanzanite on the tourists like
it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. (I suspect the cruise
lines have a stake in one Tanzanite company). We don’t deal with it
much, but all day people ask us about tanzanite rings. We tell them
that it’s a beautiful stone for earrings or pendants, but never,
ever, in a ring or a bracelet. Fairly often they already have a
tanzanite ring on their finger which we failed to notice until they
turn pale and look down at their hand in disbelief. It’s ironic
because we are street vendors of handmade silver art jewelry with
natural stones. People assume that the stores must have more
credibilty than us, but then we inform them that those stores are
selling them disposable jewelry and it seems to ruffle their feathers
a bit. Anyway, we can’t lie to them just to make them feel better
about spending tens of thousands on something that won’t last.

I find it interesting that the same stores that push this stone as “a
great investment” have a “no returns” policy. It is our policy not to
say anything bad about our competitors but it’s difficult when they
seem to be so unethical. Actually this year I noticed that all the
tanzanite is the same color, way more saturated blue than before,
then I heard about the new cobalt diffusion treatment. I don’t have
the money to buy one of these new stones just to have it tested but I
would bet my grandmother they’re diffused. Sorry for ranting, it’s
just that this whole tanzanite issue seems to sum up the dishonest
business practices of these stores. It’s a sad day when street
vendors are more honest and ethical than brick and mortar jewelry
stores, but then this is the cruise ship circuit, notorious among
those in the know.

Keep it real,

but then this is the cruise ship circuit, notorious among those in
the know. 

And when you’ve run out of steam about the gemstone and jewelry
sales, and apparent collusion between the cruise lines and the
everpresent chains of, surprisingly enough, the same store names no
matter which island or port the ship calls at, stores seldom found
elsewhere, by the way…

Well, if you still want to rant some more, how about the art
auctions these cruises all seem to offer? Fine works of art presented
onboard at prices which, one is led to believe, are vastly below what
those works would cost on land, presumably due to differences in tax
laws, import/export duty, or some such bs. There are some artists
who’s work seems to be available only on those ships, since for some
strange reason, land based dealers don’t want to carry it. And people
who bring their shipboard purchases to a knowledgeable art appraiser
often find the price they paid to be at least equal to what the stuff
would sell for on land, and sometimes a good deal more…

All of which is a good strong argument in favor of vacation trips
that do not involve large floating hotels sitting out where they’re
not so subject to land based regulations and laws. The art auctions,
by the way, also seem to be held very close to the ship board
casinos, just in case you’ve got some cash left over…

But I gotta admit. The one cruise i took with my mom up to Alaska
took us to hauntingly beautiful places I’d never have seen in my
lifetime without that boat. Memories well worth having paid for. Not
sure sure about the bit in the price that included a few days worth
of Norovirus. But that’s all part of the game, I guess. And the two
silly prints I bought at that auction in a fit of misplaced and lost
common sense and auction fever, well, they might not be worth what I
paid for them (they’re not. I checked, later). But they’re still
pretty enough, and bring back good memories. Now, they were in the
hundred dollar range for the two, not the tens of thousands some
folks pay for overpriced, overhyped, sometimes misrepresented
gemstones and jewelry. But perhaps for those poor victims, the
souvenir / memory value of these overpriced baubles makes up, a
little, for the high price paid. One can at least hope so. And all
things considered, it’s not so much different from the bs used to
market sometimes even worse junk on the TV shopping channels… So
it’s not just the cruise ships doing this sort of crap.


Hi Douglas,

Without going too far off the tanzanite topic, cruise ships are
notorious for leading their passangers to purchasing grossly
overpriced garbage. The most heinous manisfistation of this, in my
opinion, is art sales on-board. The passangers pay tens of thousands
of dollars for “prints” of famous artists only to find out, when they
return and have the pieces appraised, that they are not even worth
one hundred dollars, including the frame.

Sadly, many people are still stupid enough to be led down such a
garden path, without doing any research. Rather a version of the
Emperor’s New Clothes.

As to tanzanite, yeah, I’ve been shaking my head over that one for
ten years. Much ado about a dinky little stone in a dinky little,
prosaic catalog setting. Not my cup of tea.


In Tampa, where it is too hot, too muggy, and my bench is dusty from
no use since I went back to school fulltime and now also working
customer service to stay afloat. Ah, life, it’s all good.

But the basis to all of this…

Value or worth is what someone is willing to pay for it…If those
overpriced baubles or art brings someone great joy through the
memories of an experience who’s to say they got bad deal? If the
jeweller was not disclosed or the artwork was not disclosed as a
print then it would be unethical. I think the person saying
’thousands for a print’ is using hyperbole and probably has never
been on a cruise.

Jewellery purchases are usually discretionary…if it is for an
investment the retail customer would not have any positive return
buying at the retail level.

Everyone in this industry has their ‘own markups’ and I’m sure there
has been whole topics as to what is too much to charge…it basically
comes down to ego, on the premises, that you did not get the sale and
someone else did; and you are trying to make excuses as to why the
other persons offering is of less value than yours.

Its just business…deal with it.

I’m blunt and not ‘touchy feely’ which I’m sure will offend those
artsy types.


Jeff W. Nechka
Premier Gems LTD.