description: LOCALITY: Merelani III Mine, near Arusha, Tanzania 1 3/4" tall This piece was traded from Andy Seibel of Tehachapi, California in early 2012. The crystal is on a matrix of graphite. Despite the crystal only being small, this piece "stands out" because: (a) The crystal is on a matrix of graphite. Most other Tanzanite crystals are loose since when gem bearing pockets are broken into, shock often leads to the crystals breaking off matrix. Graphite is soft and brittle and this may be a further barrier to recovery of crystals of Tanzanite attached to it. (b) It has not been heat treated to alter the natural color that this piece shows. Heat treatment destroys the scholarship of a Tanzanite crystal. (c) The trichroism is spectacular and pronounced. (d) The graphite matrix is partly coated by a white mineral and some very small, pale green crystals of diopside. The presence of the white mineral helps create an esthetically pleasing color contrast between the Tanzanite crystal and its host rock. (e) The luster of the crystal faces is as high as polished glass. (f) The condition of the vertices and edges of the crystals is pristine. (g) The Tanzanite crystal is gemmy and probably contains some small facet quality sections although most of the value of this piece is its worth as a specimen for a mineral collector (h) The piece is not repaired. To put this piece into context: The first time I saw a Tanzanite crystal was during the early 1990's. It was in the hands of Brian Shelton and was a small brown crystal less than 1" long. By standards of the day, it was considered a good piece and Shelton was pleased to have it as part of his world class collections of miniatures. I started to see better quality Tanzanite crystals in the late 1990's. They were about 3" long and fine loose crystals could be bought at the 1998 Tucson Show for under $10,000. Less than 2 months after the show, the mine flooded and the price of facet rough rose from around US$400/ct to around US$1200/ct literally overnight. What will happen to Tanzanite pricing when Merelani III is exhaused?
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