would a simulated tanzanite... lets say made of glass, have the
same red flashs, color change etc. as the real stone would? Anyone
with some insite on this subject?
It’s true that tanzanite has not been synthesized in a laboratory
and, as you’ve certainly read on this forum, there are a few
imitations. I wish there were a simple layman’s answer for you but
the truth is that it is difficult to separate some of these
materials without at least some basic gemological training and
For instance, zoisite (tanzanite is the blue variety of zoisite) has
a refractive index of 1.69 to 1.70, a biaxial positive optic
character, specific gravity of 3.35, birefringence of.008 -.013 and
is generally inert under longwave ultraviolet light. This is the
basic info you need to separate it from its’imitations.
Coranite is a trade name for one tanzanite imitation. It is a
purplish blue synthetic corundum with a typical RI of 1.762 - 1.770
and a birefringence of 0.008. Its optic character is uniaxial
negative, which is quite different from tanzanite and it is inert to
Some manufacturers have created a bluish-purple yttrium aluminum
garnet (YAG) that looks a lot like tanzanite called Tanavyte. It is
singly refractive with an RI of 1.80, which is over the limits of
most gemological refractometers. Even so, it may show anomalous
double refraction in the polariscope due to strain in the crystal,
but that also means there is no birefringence or pleochroism.
U.M. Tanzanic is leaded glass with an RI of around 1.60, and also
singly refractive. Tanzation is a synthetic spinel triplet with a
fused cobalt layer. RI is 1.72 and it’s also singly refractive, so
no birefringence or pleochroism.
You’ve doubtless read about the synthetic forsterite here, and it is
definitely the most difficult tanzanite imitation to separate, even
though it is most closely related to peridot than to zoisite. It’s
optic character is biaxial positive like tanzanite, but it’s RI is
significantly lower at 1.64 - 1.67. That also means it’s
birefringence is much higher at.035. It is strongly pleochroic like
tanzanite, but only shows two colors through the dichroscope,
whereas tanzanite displays three colors. Earlier, I mentioned that
tanzanite is inert to ultraviolet light, but synthetic forsterite
often fluoresces a weak, chalky orangy yellow when exposed to
long-wave ultraviolet radiation and a weak greenish yellow to
Sheila, as a person who has recently started collecting gems, I don’t
expect you to be able to take the kinds of readings or even own the
equipment necessary to make the separations required of a gemologist.
What I am attempting to do is get people to understand how easy it
can be to get ripped off by unscrupulous dealers, or even ignorant
ones. Internet sites and legitimate gem dealers often have no idea
that they themselves have been hoodwinked into buying imitations or
synthetics before they resell them to the public. I guess what I’m
saying is that you should find yourself some reputable dealers,
wholesalers, retailers, etc., who you may buy from with confidence.
All of the above is a long, unnecessary narrative to answer the
question of whether there is a way to tell with the naked eye if a
gemstone is tanzanite or one of its’imitations. Apart from some
batches that “just don’t look quite right” the answer is:
James S. Duncan, G.G.
James in SoFL