Tanzanite vs. Sapphire: Settling the All-Time Debate

Posted on February 21st, 2023 12:28 PM

Sometimes we wonder, is it worth the hype to wear the gemstones? Well, the only answer is by knowing about it, and comparison is the best way. Among the wide spectrum of gemstones, blue is undoubtedly some of the most preferred variants that have captured people's fascination. 

Sapphire is a precious gemstone of the corundum family and comes in a wide range of colors, including blue, green, black, white, pink, purple, and yellow. However, the color remains the basic essence of sapphire. It is among those gems associated with wisdom, integrity, and royalty. They are tough, durable, and resistant to scratches, making blue sapphire stone ideal for everyday wear and use.

Tanzanite is a relatively recent gemstone discovered in the 1960s, and its rarity sets it apart from other gems. The only known source of origin in Tanzania. It has a beautiful blue-violet hue and displays various shades from different angles. 

Tanzanite vs. Sapphire

Tanzanite and sapphire look similar, and without an untrained eye, anyone would find it difficult to distinguish between the two beautiful blue gemstones. Aside from the visual perception between the two, they differ considerably among other important parameters like rarity and pricing. 

Read More: Emerald vs Sapphire

Sapphire and Tanzanite have a rich history and legacy to their credit; no wonder they are the most sought-after gemstones in the world. However, the debate is that these two blue gemstones should be included in the same subset of color variation. 

Let us understand the difference between Tanzanite and Sapphire. 

Tanzanite vs. Sapphire infographic

1. Tanzanite vs. Sapphire: Color

Sapphire comes in various colors, such as pink, white, green, etc., but blue sapphire is the most popular variant. It displays a traditional blue outlook with a deep undertone; in other words, blue sapphire takes on a purer shade of blue. The most prized color is a strong, vivid velvety to violetish-blue, in medium to medium-dark tone. 

Tanzanite vs. Sapphire: Color

Tanzanite offers a bluish-violet or bluish-purple hue; it displays different shades of blue when viewed from different angles. It can appear in various shades of blue, ranging from a light sky blue to a deep dark blue and every shade of blue in between. The mineral zoisite naturally occurs in a wide range of colors: colorless, gray, yellow, brown, pink, green, blue, and violet. 

2. Tanzanite vs. Sapphire: Hardness

With a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness, sapphire is second only to diamond. This makes sapphire exceptionally hard and strong. It has excellent toughness, and with no cleavage, this makes a great choice for Blue sapphire rings and other mountings to wear daily. 

On the other hand, Tanzanite ranks between 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale, making it a softer stone in general. Therefore, Tanzanite stone is not durable or tough as sapphire; it has the 'gemstone cleavage,' meaning that it breaks from a hard strike. 

3. Tanzanite vs. Sapphire: Rarity

Sapphire is relatively abundant while exceptionally rare. Gem-quality corundum is rare, but blue sapphire is the most common corundum. It is mined heavily in gem-producing countries by traditional and mechanical methods. Even with heavy mining, sapphires are exponentially less than the production of most other gemstones. This is what makes sapphire a safe investment for owning this gem for the long term. 

Read More:- Yellow Sapphire vs Citrine

Tanzanites are one of the rarest gemstones, a thousand times rarer than diamonds. It is exclusively found in Northern Tanzania, and the chances are speculated to be super rare. It was first recognized in 1967, and the rare stone is near Mt Kilimanjaro. Unlike more established gemstones like diamonds or emeralds, Tanzanite has only been known worldwide for over 50 years. Thus it has had less time to become widely available or to be incorporated into traditional jewelry designs.

4. Tanzanite vs. Sapphire: Clarity

Sapphire is prone to have flaws and inclusions and is considered a regular feature in the highest quality of sapphires. They generally have better clarity than rubies, as other characteristics include mineral crystals, fingerprint-like cracks that have partially healed, color zoning, and color banding. 

Tanzanite vs. Sapphire: Clarity of Stone

Tanzanite has some flaws and inclusions, but they are invisible to the naked eye and possess higher clarity than sapphires. The clarity of Tanzanites is an important factor generally, Tanzanites with higher clarity grades will be more valuable than those with lower rates. However, it's worth noting that some inclusions in Tanzanite, such as "silk" (fine, needle-like inclusions), can enhance its value by creating a desirable "velvety" appearance.

5. Tanzanite vs. Sapphire: Composition

Blue Sapphire is the September birthstone, representing core values like hope, integrity, nobility, and faithfulness. The stone is also linked to regal status and a happy marriage. It belongs to the mineral species corundum, which is composed of aluminum oxide. In its pure form, corundum is colorless and can exhibit many colors. The chemical composition of blue sapphire can vary slightly depending on the specific mine or location where it was found.

Tanzanite is associated with wisdom, dignity, and truth; many legends consider this stone crucial in channeling positive energy to an individual. It is a variety of mineral zoisite with calcium, aluminum, and silica, with trace amounts of vanadium. The amount of vanadium can affect the shade of the Tanzanite's color. It can also contain other impurities, such as iron and titanium, affecting its color and clarity.

6. Tanzanite vs Sapphire: Treatment

Tanzanite is heat-treated and this process involves heating the stone to high temperatures to remove any brown or yellowish hues and enhance its blue and violet tones. It is primarily done to improve its color and clarity and most tanzanite on the market has been heat-treated to some degree.

Sapphire, on the other hand, can be treated using heat treatment, diffusion treatment, and irradiation. The process involves heating the stone to high temperatures to improve its color and remove any internal inclusions or fractures.

7. Tanzanite vs. Sapphire: Price

Blue sapphire has an illustrious history that is unmatched by many other gemstones; they are much more expensive than tanzanites. A high-quality blue sapphire over 1 carat in weight can easily cost several thousand dollars. Larger blue sapphires of 5 carats or more can fetch tens of thousands of dollars.

Tanzanites are cheaper than other blue gems like aquamarine or blue topaz but are cheaper than blue sapphires. The prices start from $300 to $1,200 per carat. However, the costs can also fluctuate over time due to supply and demand, mining conditions, and global economic conditions. 

8. Tanzanite vs. Sapphire: Popularity

Blue Sapphires (Neelam stone) have been associated with aristocracy and royalty for centuries and are among the most popular gemstones globally. Many ancient cultures believed that this jewel had calming and hypnotizing abilities. 

Tanzanite is one of the world's rarest gemstones; its multitude of bluish hues and supreme clarity make it extremely attractive to the eye. Thus Tanzanite is a highly sought-after gemstone with widespread popularity among people. 

The Takeaway

From the point of durability, sapphire is the winner. On the other hand, Tanzanite needs more care as it isn't that tough and has the 'gemstone cleavage.' This means that a hard strike will result in breakage.

If you consider affordability, Tanzanite will not drain your pocket the way blue sapphire can. Even though Tanzanite is much rarer than sapphire. Now, if you have a query which is more expensive sapphire or tanzanite, then blue sapphire is more expensive because of its beauty and eternal association with royalty. Blue sapphire is also exceptionally durable, which works in its favor, making it a popular choice for jewelry and investments. 

Thus, it's easy to see why tanzanite/sapphire has cemented an important place in the hearts and minds of people worldwide. 

Sapphire and Tanzanite are both beautiful, elegant, and valuable gemstones, but they differ in color, hardness, and sparkle. You can get your Tanzanite or sapphire gem in your favorite color; the choice is yours!

Read More:- The 4C’s Of Sapphires

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