Home Tanzanite Does Tanzanite Break Easily: A Quick Guide

Does Tanzanite Break Easily: A Quick Guide

by Madonna

Tanzanite, known for its mesmerizing blue-violet hue and captivating brilliance, has gained popularity as a gemstone of choice for jewelry enthusiasts. However, there are persistent myths and concerns about tanzanite’s durability, with questions often arising about whether it breaks easily. In this comprehensive article, we will debunk these myths and explore the true nature of tanzanite’s durability, offering expert insights on how to care for and ensure the longevity of this exquisite gemstone.

Understanding Tanzanite’s Composition

Before addressing concerns about tanzanite’s durability, it’s essential to understand its composition. Tanzanite is a variety of the mineral zoisite, and it is relatively rare, with most tanzanite deposits found in Tanzania. The unique and captivating blue-violet color of tanzanite is due to the presence of vanadium and chromium impurities. On the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, which rates gemstones’ resistance to scratching, tanzanite typically scores around 6.5 to 7. This places it in the same general range as many other popular gemstones, such as emeralds and opals.


See Also: The Enigmatic Beauty: The Valuable Allure of Purple Tanzanite


The formation process of Tanzanite

Tanzanite, a mesmerizing blue-violet gemstone, has a unique formation process closely tied to its rarity and distinct beauty. Here’s a breakdown of how tanzanite forms:


1. Geological Setting:

Tanzanite is found exclusively in a small region near Mount Kilimanjaro in northern Tanzania. This region is part of the East African Rift System, an area characterized by tectonic plate movements and volcanic activity.

2. Heat and Pressure:

Tanzanite’s formation begins when metamorphic events occur beneath the Earth’s surface. These events involve the combination of extreme heat and pressure, causing chemical changes within existing minerals.

3. Tectonic Forces:

Tanzanite formation is also closely linked to tectonic forces. The rift zone in Tanzania experiences geological activity, including faulting and fracturing of the Earth’s crust. These geological processes create pockets and cavities where minerals, including tanzanite, can crystallize.

4. Crystallization:

Tanzanite crystals form within these cavities as a result of the superheated fluids rich in minerals rising from the Earth’s mantle. These fluids react with the surrounding rock, leading to the growth of tanzanite crystals over an extended period.

5. Mining:

Tanzanite is typically found at depths ranging from 600 to 1,000 meters beneath the Earth’s surface. Mining operations extract tanzanite-bearing rocks and carefully process them to reveal the gem-quality material.

It’s important to note that tanzanite’s formation process is relatively recent in geological terms, with estimates suggesting it occurred around 585 million years ago. The gem’s geological uniqueness, limited geographic source, and captivating color make it a highly sought-after and precious gemstone in the world of jewelry and gem collecting.

Dispelling the Myth: Does Tanzanite Break Easily?

One of the most common misconceptions about tanzanite is that it breaks easily. This misconception often arises from a combination of factors, including tanzanite’s lower hardness compared to diamonds and its cleavage characteristics. Cleavage refers to a mineral’s tendency to break along specific planes due to its atomic structure.

Tanzanite does exhibit cleavage, meaning it can break along planes where its atomic bonds are weaker. However, this does not necessarily mean that tanzanite is prone to breaking in everyday wear. The key factors that determine whether tanzanite breaks easily are its quality, how it is cut and set, and how it is treated.

How durable is tanzanite?

The quality of a tanzanite gemstone significantly impacts its durability. High-quality tanzanite gemstones with excellent clarity, minimal inclusions, and well-saturated color are less likely to have structural weaknesses that could lead to breakage. When purchasing tanzanite jewelry, it’s crucial to choose gems that have been carefully selected for their quality, as this can significantly reduce the risk of breakage.

What is Protective Setting Tanzanite?

The way a tanzanite gemstone is cut and set in jewelry can also affect its durability. The cut should be executed by a skilled lapidary who understands the gem’s properties and works to maximize its brilliance while minimizing risks. A well-cut tanzanite will have facets that enhance its beauty without compromising its structural integrity.

The setting of the tanzanite in jewelry is equally important. Protective settings, such as bezel or prong settings, can help safeguard the gemstone from impacts and potential breakage. When tanzanite is securely and professionally set, it is less susceptible to damage during everyday wear.

Can tanzanite be passed down as an heirloom?

With proper care and maintenance, tanzanite jewelry can indeed become a cherished heirloom passed down through generations. While tanzanite has a moderate hardness, its durability depends largely on the quality of the gemstone, the expertise of its cutting and setting, and the care it receives. Regular inspections by professional jewelers can help ensure its longevity. Thoughtful handling, storage, and avoidance of situations where it might be exposed to excessive wear or impact can contribute to preserving the gemstone’s beauty and structural integrity. Passed down as an heirloom, tanzanite jewelry can serve as a lasting symbol of elegance and family heritage.

Precautions when handling tanzanite

Tanzanite is commonly treated to enhance its color and clarity. Heat treatment is a standard practice in the tanzanite industry and can improve the gemstone’s color by removing brownish or yellowish tints. When tanzanite is treated responsibly and with proper care, it should not negatively impact its durability.

However, excessive or improper treatment can weaken the gemstone, making it more prone to breakage. It is essential to purchase tanzanite jewelry from reputable sources that disclose any treatments and ensure that these treatments are performed by experienced professionals who follow industry standards.

Is tanzanite suitable for everyday wear?

Tanzanite can be suitable for everyday wear when set securely in jewelry and handled with care. Choosing protective settings, such as bezel or prong settings, can help safeguard the gemstone from impacts and potential breakage. However, it’s advisable to remove tanzanite jewelry during physically demanding activities or situations where it might be at risk of damage.

See Also: Can You Wear Tanzanite Everyday? The Durability and Versatility


In conclusion, tanzanite is a beautiful and relatively durable gemstone that, when properly cared for and set, does not break easily in everyday wear. The misconception that tanzanite is fragile often stems from misunderstandings about its cleavage and quality variations. By choosing high-quality tanzanite, having it set professionally, and following proper care guidelines, you can enjoy the captivating beauty of tanzanite jewelry for generations to come. Remember that, like all valuable gemstones, tanzanite deserves thoughtful handling and maintenance to preserve its allure and longevity.


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