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Fancy Color Tanzanite
Tanzanite is most famous for its rich violet-blue color, but there are now a range of other colors being marketed as fancy color tanzanite. Some of these are quite rare and valuable.
The violet blue tanzanite is produced by low temperature heating of the brownish or greenish zoisite found in Tanzania. The name tanzanite was orignally applied to this distinctive color when Tiffany & Co. named and marketed the gem after its discovery in 1967.
There was initially no market for the unheated zoisite, most of which was not particularly attractive until heated. But with extensive mining in Tanzania, some rare and beautiful colors of natural zoisite and have been found and these are now sold as fancy colored tanzanite (though technically they should be called "fancy colored zoisite"). The colors include green, golden, orange, green-blue, pink and purple.
The key to value in fancy color tanzanite is the purity of the color. Most zoisite has a brown or grey secondary hue, and these muted colors are not desirable. Vivid pinks, greens yellows and oranges are rare and are sought after by collectors. Most fine fancy colors are found only in small sizes (under 1 carat) and larger pieces are very rare, especially in purer colors.
The opaque massive form of pink zoisite is known as thulite and is relatively common. But the pink color is very rare in crystalline form, and transparent zoisite in any shade of pink is quite valuable. The pinks and purples are the rarest and most valuable of the fancy tanzites, often selling for 2 to 3 times the price of fine blue tanzanite. The chrome green tanzanite is the next rarest, followed by vivid oranges and yellows.
In the case of violet-blue tanzanite, there is no premium for unheated stones, since the violet-blue color is normally produced by low temperature heating. The fancy colored tanzanites are completely untreated, a fact appreciated by many collectors.