THE ROLE OF TANZANITE
Tanzanite jewellery is loved all around the world, with tanzanite rings, in particular, being a popular choice for jewellery enthusiasts. Tanzanite is a “modern” gem, having only been discovered in 1967. This groundbreaking discovery did not just mean a great deal to the world of gemstones, but it meant a lot for the country of Tanzania. Because tanzanite is only found along a 4km strip at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania is the world’s only supplier of this precious gem, resulting in world-wide interest in this country and the African continent.
In early years, the people of Tanzania seemed undecided about tanzanite. There were rumours of tragic mining accidents and unfair working conditions, as well as beliefs that all the money made from tanzanite was leaving the country. With the implementation of fair systems and various ethical organisations, however, tanzanite is today mined fairly, and it has significantly boosted the Tanzanian economy. Today, there is a sense of pride among the people of Tanzania. Not only has an internationally recognized certification scheme been introduced, but an international grading system has been implemented, where tanzanite’s features are accurately described and recorded, giving assurance to those who wish to purchase ethically mined tanzanite.
It is difficult to ascertain just how many people in Tanzania depend on tanzanite mining for a living, but as a result of the mining of tanzanite, there have been major investments in technology, the environment, as well as in the local communities.
In 2003, the Tucson Tanzanite Protocol (TTP) was developed in order to protect tanzanite and ensure an ethical route to market. Proactive and settling, this step was crucial in giving consumers confidence in tanzanite, protecting the legitimacy of the gem’s supply chain and to encourage economic development within Tanzania. This protocol comes as the result of a cooperation between the Tanzanian government, and major industry stakeholders, including miners, dealers, manufacturers, suppliers and retailers. This protocol is often likened to the Kimberley Process which came into effect in 2000, and was designed to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the mainstream diamond market.
Tanzania would not be where it is today, was it not for the discovery of tanzanite. Not only has it strengthened the Tanzanian economy, and created jobs for local people, but it has also helped fund various community projects, bettering the lives of the Tanzanian people. When buying tanzanite in South Africa from a reputable jeweller such as Shimansky, you can be certain that your tanzanite ring, necklace, or earrings will not only bring you joy for a lifetime, but that it helped sustain and develop local communities in Tanzania as well.