Posts Tagged ‘bllue zoisite’

 “Honest poverty is a gem that even a king might be proud to call his own – but I wish to sell out.” – Mark Twain

African Safari: No Sale

Tanzanite: The rough stone and a polished stone. -- Photo courtesy Wikipedia

Tourists to Africa, like Kim and myself, are valued for the dollars they bring. Knowing that made it easier for me to understand the royal and polite treatment we received at all the places we stayed, and helped erase the guilt I frequently suffered for having so much while others had so little.

I would like to think that some of the kindnesses extended us was real, but I’m sure some of it was just for the generous tips both Kim and I diligently handed out. It seemed only just that we do so.

The Africa Adventure Company that had arranged our tour, meanwhile, had gone the extra mile to make sure we traveled safely and enjoyed our stay. This included providing us an opportunity to spend our money on souvenirs from sanctioned local shops and native co-ops. .

I realized this fully for the first time when our Ranger Safaris’ driver stopped at a place where they sold tanzanite, a rare gem first discovered in 1967 in the hills near Mount Kilimanjaro. Neither Kim nor I had ever heard of this brilliantly blue and violet crystal-like stone.

The mining of the gem was nationalized by the Tanzania government in 1972; and its original name of blue zoisite, was changed to tanzanite by Tiffany when the company began marketing the jewel.

Company big wigs thought a stone named after the country where it was found would sell better than one whose name sounded like “blue suicide.”

Monkeys by the side of a road were a common sight in Tanzania. -- Photo by Kim Perrin

According to Wikipedia, “the mining of tanzanite nets the Tanzanian government $20 million annually,” while retail sales, mostly in the United States, total “approximately $500 million annually.”

The largest tanzanite stone discovered, 252 carats and known as the “Queen of Kilimanjaro,” sits in a tiara owned by Michael Scott, Apple Computers’ first CEO.

I found the tanzanite trivia fascinating, but wasn’t interested in owning one. Both Kim and I, after noting the cost of the jewelry, agreed we would rather spend our money on more travel instead.

Next Episode: Coffee Plantation Lodging

Read Full Post »