tanzanite (tănzănˈĪt) [key], beautiful gemstone discovered in 1967 in the Umba Valley near the Usambara Mts. in Tanzania, a precious variety of the mineral zoisite, a calcium aluminum silicate. Zoisite is a common rock-forming mineral and is usually white to gray in color. Tanzanite occurs as orthorhombic crystals, which may be colorless, yellow-green, brown, or blue to violet when found; when these crystals are heated to 300–400°C, many of them turn sapphire blue, which is the preferred color for gemstones. The blue color is attributed to the presence of small amounts of vanadium.
More on tanzanite from Fact Monster:
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Mineralogy and Crystallography