Longido, Mahenge, Songea, Matombo, Tunduru may well be names of exotic flowers from Tanzania. Still, these are names of places across this stunning land that have given birth to some of the most beautiful gemstones in the history of humankind.
Strategically placed between Kenya in the North, Mozambique in the South-East and Zambia towards the South-West, Tanzania is home to a large variety of gems that have experienced a tumultuous journey since their discovery.
Since the early discoveries of rubies in the 1900s, Tanzania has been a constant source of the exquisite gems. Till now geologist and artisanal explorers have discovered Tanzanite, Tsavorite, Emerald, Alexandrite, Tourmaline, Diamond, and more recently the now-famous fiery Spinels from the region of Mahenge.
In his book, Ruby & Sapphire, award-wining author Richard Hughes explains how “Tanzania’s gem deposits have resulted from massive tectonic activity creating one of the highest mineralized zones in the world – the Mozambique Orogenic Belt”. He goes on to explain how “the belt cuts a 200-300 km-wide north-south swath through the central and eastern part of the country.”
Sharing additional insights, Joe Belmont, founder of KV Gems, explains, “While we have a few Tanzanian rubies, the percentage of facet-grade Corundum of good quality from Tanzania is quite rare. In my experience, Tanzania is a good source for quality Tsavorite and Spinels. While we have fabulous Spinels from other locales like Burma and Vietnam, the ones from Tanzania are uniquely vibrant, offering a heady cocktail of deep pink with a splash of orange.”
Long term value appreciation regarding gemstones is driven by a combination of beauty, rarity and demand. Why are Tsavorites and Spinels from Tanzania are highly collectable? Joe Belmont, founder, KV Gems, explains, “The tragic loss of Campbell Bridges who discovered Tsavorite originally in Zimbabwe in the early sixties and later in Tanzania and Kenya, led to the closure of his mine in Kenya and more importantly loss of valuable geological knowledge of the larger region. This tragic event, combined with unreasonably high regulation, corruption, security issues, and taxation in later years, has made it challenging for companies to continue investing in exploration and mining. Simultaneously, the growing popularity of both gems has caused a scarcity in the marketplace, driving prices up. In my personal view, the pricing for top-grade Spinels and Tsavorites from Tanzania are only going to continue accelerating.”