After my first successful gem hunting trip to Namibia at the beginning of 2015 I am delighted to be visiting Africa again, this time to Tanzania. Tanzania is probably most famous for being the only source of blue gem Zoisite in the world, known to most as Tanzanite. Whilst I will be hoping to visit the known locations of Tanzanite, in the foothills of mount kilamanjaro, its not the main reason I chose to visit Tanzania on the hunt for gemstones.
As a fair trade registered goldsmith and a fairmined liscensee I am keen to see first hand the development of fully traceable metals and gemstones. At present all fair trade gold comes from South America, however projects in Tanzania and neighboring Kenya and Uganda are working towards increasing the availability of fairtrade gold to customers around the world. I hope to visit gold mining projects in Tanzania that are working towards fair trade certification, to see the good work that is going on, on and under the ground. To find out more about the work going on in east Africa please, click here.
As well as Tanzanite and gold, Tanzania is home to deposits of many other precious stones and its two of these, Spinel and Tsavorite, that I will be trying to track down when I visit in Decemeber. Tsavorites are green and personal favourate of mine, found only in Tanzania, Kenya and Madagascar they are a variety of Garnet, whlist Spinels are found all over the world with high quality stones being very highly prized. In Tanzania you can also find Sapphire, Ruby, diamonds, Zircon, Tourmaline, Peridot and other varieties of Garnet.
In Tanzania, Tsavorites are found in the north, near the border with Kenya. Just across the border, in Kenya, is the Tsavo National Park after which Tsavorites are named. In Tanzania deposits are located at Namalulu and Merelani Hills not far from mount Kilimanharo.
There is also one Spinel deposit in this area, at Mt Oldoinyo Lengai however this is the only one in the area with the others being in the south of the country close to the Zambian and Malawian borders. Spinel crystals come in a variety of colours including Black, blue, red, violet , green, brown and pink, the most valuable of these colours tend to be vibrant red spinels. There is a large uncut Spinel in the crown jewels of the United Kingdom. Known as the Black Prince’s Ruby, it is thought the 170ct stone was found in what is today Tajikistan although the exact origin of the stone is unknown.
I will be blogging throughout my trip, hopefully bringing you some fantastic quality gemstones as well as an insight into the mining of gemstones in Tanzania.