Unboxing Blue Gemstones | Topaz, Zircon, Tanzanite and more!
Join our gemstone hosts Britney and Rob in unboxing and exploring several examples of beautiful blue gemstones – one of the rarer gemstone colors! Learn some gemstone trivia while seeing extraordinary specimens of the following blue gemstones: shattuckite, azurite, lazurite, lapis lazuli, tanzanite, blue zircon and blue topaz!
The first blue gemstone that they unbox is shattuckite, a pseudomorph of malachite, which gets its name from the Shattuck Mine in Arizona. Here, shattuckite was discovered in 1915 and can be occasionally found mingled with quartz.
The next blue stone featured is azurite. Its name refers to its natural blue “azure” color, caused by copper ores in the stone. Until the 1800s, azurite was originally called chessylite and was named after the Chessy-Les-Mines mine in France. Historically, azurite was used in paints and dies by the ancient Egyptians.
Next up is lazurite, a completely opaque deep-blue gem that is one of the key ingredients for lapis lazuli. Lazurite, like azurite, was also used to make pigments in the past. Its blue color is caused by the presence of sulfur, and this gem is also of the isometric system (also known as the cubic crystal system), meanings its cells and crystals are cube shaped. Lazurite was first identified in Afghanistan, a major source of lapis, in 1890, so it is fitting that lazurite traces its name from the Arabic word for heaven.
After mentioning lapis lazuli and discussing one of its key components, lazurite, our gem hosts unveil a large specimen of lapis. For a lapis specimen to be labeled as lapis lazuli, at least 25 percent of it has to be made of lazurite. For thousands of years, lapis has been used in fabulous works of art and cultural significance, such as King Tut's face mask, and used as ultramarine pigment during the Renaissance worth more than its weight in gold.
Rob and Britney then showcase the glassy appearance of tanzanite. Although this stone is famous for its dark blue color and is often mistaken for sapphire, it doesn’t usually appear naturally as blue! Tanzanite requires heat treatment to turn from its natural brownish color to blue. As the name suggests, tanzanite comes from Tanzania in Africa. What makes this gemstone so special is that it's a thousand times rarer than diamond and comes from one sector of the country – nowhere else in the world. Peacock tanzanite (green tanzanite) is also shown for its green-blue tint and pleochroism. Pleochroism is the ability of a stone to change color depending on which direction you view it. Tanzanite is also dichroic, meaning it only shows two different shades of color.
The second to last gemstone unboxed is blue zircon, a highly birefringent stone that allows light to enter it and split into two different directions. This process allows your eye to see optical doubling (double of its back facets). Zircon is also an ancient mineral that is around four and a half billion years old. Like tanzanite, most zircon gems are found in a reddish-brown color and require heat treatment to make them blue.
The last blue gemstone unboxed is blue topaz which, like the last two stones mentioned, typically earns its blue hue from heat treatment. While blue topaz can occur naturally, it's exceedingly rare and very valuable! Topaz’ natural appearance reveals it to be an allochromatic gemstone, which means it's naturally colorless without heat or impurities.
Finally, to close out the video, we’ll take a closer look at Britney and Rob’s respective favorite gems from the unboxing. To learn more about any and all of these fabulous blue gemstones, watch the video above or search them on the site's Gemopedia!