It is believed that the Masai herders in a town near the foothills of Munt Kilimanjaro (now part of Tanzania) were the first people to discover this gemstone. According to popular myth, a lightning strike near the Merelani hills set surrounding grasslands on fire. When the Masai herders returned to the area with their livestock, magical blue stones appeared on the ground. When a Portuguese geologist, named Manuel d' Souza, traveled to this area in Tanzania, several of the native herders took him to a place where these blue stones were on the ground. Thinking they were sapphires, he was disappointed when tests showed they were too soft. But he still believed the stones might have some value, so he quickly staked out his claims and registered them with the government. Despite d'Souza's efforts to keep the find a secret, word spread fast. Before long, nearly 100 claims were staked. This exciting new gem reached the US market in 1970. With vast deposits in the northern part of the country near the Merelani hills, Tanzania is the primary commercial source of tanzanite. Very small deposits have been found in Kenya, but were not considered large enough for commercial purposes. Until recently. With Tanzanite’s ongoing popularity even these small deposits are now being mined and have even been the source of armed disputes.
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