Africa personifies beauty in every sense of the word, from the stunning wildlife to scenic landscapes, vast rivers, and breath-taking waterfalls. Perhaps less well known are the beautiful African gemstone types found across the continent. The world’s supply of Rubies and Sapphires are mined in Madagascar. Deep, eye-catching Tourmalines colours are found in Mozambique, while large quantities of Tanzanite gemstones are found in Tanzania, alone with zircons, garnets, and more. Next time you think of spoiling yourself or a loved one, make sure to invest in an African gemstone.
Courtesy of jeff schultz/Flickr
Sphene is a stone which you may have seen before, without actually realising what it was. Whilst this African gemstone is nowhere near as common or recognisable as, say, a ruby, or a diamond, Sphene is still a highly precious commodity, and it is becoming more popular as days go by. This African gemstone contains high traces of Titanium, which is why it also sometimes goes by the name of ‘Titanite.’ Sphene features a Mohs’ hardness of 5 – 5.5, and in appearance, it comes in a number of shades, which are usually green, brown, red, and yellow in appearance.
Courtesy of Stan Celestian/Flickr
Garnets can be yellow in colour, they can be red, green-yellow, orange-red, and much more. This African gemstone is very popular and valuable and has a refractive index of between 6.5 and 7.5. Garnets are commonly found in Tanzania, with Tanzanian garnets often changing colour in different shades of light. There are many different types of this African gemstone, with pyrope garnets (red in colour) and Grossular garnets (yellow-brown to green in colour) proving to be some of the most popular.
Courtesy of Arvin Benitez/Flickr
Rubies, which are instantly recognisable due to their stunning red colour, are also mined in Africa, namely in Mozambique. Whilst the general consensus is that this African gemstone is mined in Burma is the most valuable, the main issue is that there is currently a trade embargo in place, which prevents them from entering the US. This African gemstone mined in Mozambique, however, can be sold directly to the US via auction. Because of this, Mozambique rubies are increasing in value day by day, and with their glistening deep red appearance, it’s easy for one to understand why that is.
Courtesy of Denis SUTTER/Flickr
African Gemstone: Tanzanite
As you can guess from the name, Tanzanite was first discovered in Tanzania. In actual fact, it was only discovered back in 1968, by a miner who was actually searching for sapphires at the time. This African gemstone has a deep violet-blue colour that was the result of a meteor striking the area millions upon millions of years ago, depositing large quantities of vanadium in the region. This African gemstone is often heat-treated in order for its deep violet-blue colour to really shine through. On some rare occasions, Tanzanite has also been found in yellow, green, and even pink colours. On the Mohs’ hardness scale, this African gemstone has a hardness of between 6.5 and 7.
Courtesy of Irene Helms/Flickr
Sapphires are generally found in deep blue and green colours, though they can also be found in yellow, red, and light pink colours. This African gemstone is very hard compared to other stones and has a hardness of around 8.8 on the Mohs’ hardness scale. Before going on sale, sapphires will generally be ultra-heat treated at very high temperatures in order for the colours to intensify. This African gemstone is sometimes confused with tanzanite gems, and vice versa, as, at first glance, the colours do indeed appear to be very similar to one another.
Courtesy of mygemologist.com
Zircons are often mixed up with cubic zirconias, which are man-made. Zircon, however, is a completely natural African gemstone that can be found in a vast array of amazing colours and shades. These include blue, clear, red, green, brown, bronze, and violet. Zircons can be found in many locations scattered across Africa, though they are commonly found in Tanzania. This African gemstone has an amazing high refractive index, and what’s more, it has a hardness of around 6.5 and 7.5 on the Mohs’ hardness scale. Brown zircons will often be treated with heat of around 800 – 1000 degrees Celsius, in order to create brilliant blue varieties.
Courtesy of Peter Torraca/Flickr
Tourmaline also comes in many different colours, and can actually come in a multi-coloured form, which has made it increasingly desirable over the years. Colours of this African gemstone can vary from deep reds to oranges, blues, greens, pinks, and even blues.
Courtesy of John Brandauer/Flickr
Chrysoberyl has been mined for many years now, and it comes in a number of forms, with Cat’s Eye, and Alexandrite, being the two most valuable and most desired examples. This too, is very hard, with a hardness of 8.5, and what’s more, this African gemstone can change colour in different lights, going from green in daylight to red in artificial lights.
Courtesy of Peter Torraca/Flickr
African Gemstone: Spinel
Spinel is sometimes confused as ruby as it is commonly a deep pink-red in colour, though it can be found in violet, green-blue, or even black. Mined mainly in Tanzania, this African gemstone is incredibly desirable and has been utilized by royalty and nobility over the years. The crown jewels of England, featured this African gemstone numerous times, although they were initially confused for rubies.
Courtesy of BorsheimsJewelryFlikd.com/Flicker
Paraiba Tourmaline gems are generally smaller in size than tourmaline stones and are generally found in deep blue colours, though some can be turquoise, and occasionally, even green. This African gemstone has only been mined since the early 2000s, yet much of the world’s Paraiba tourmaline is now mined and produced in the continent, particularly in locations such as Mozambique, and Nigeria.