Tanzanite vs. Sapphire: Which Should You Buy in 2023?

If you’re looking for a blue gemstone, chances are tanzanite and sapphire have caught your eye. With their captivating hues, it’s easy to see why they’re top contenders for the best blue gemstone. They might look strikingly similar, but beneath that glittering surface, they’re very different.

But which is the better blue gemstone? Both these stones have pros and cons, so the answer isn’t so straightforward. Let’s break it down.

Which Is the Better Blue Gemstone?

tanzanite gemstone on hand

From all blue gemstones, these two are possibly the most well-known. Tanzanite, sourced exclusively from Tanzania, is prized for its distinct violet-blue hue that subtly shifts under varying light. It’s more affordable than sapphires and much rarer. But because it’s much softer, it can easily get scratched. Also, because all Tanzanite comes from just one source, potential market disruptions could spike prices or affect availability.

On the other hand, sapphires, long associated with royalty and romance, are celebrated for their hardness, making them ideal for regular wear. They also present a diverse color palette, although blue remains the most popular. However, premium sapphires, especially those from renowned regions like Kashmir or Burma, can be very pricey.

Ultimately, both are great choices, and your decision will be influenced by your budget and purpose. For engagement rings, we recommend sapphires because they’re more durable. But for other types of jewelry, tanzanite is a great choice. Now, let’s break this down further.

Tanzanite vs. Sapphire: Rarity

Tanzanite ring
Stunning blue tanzanite in sterling silver. See this here.

Sapphire is famous for its striking blue color. It comes from a few places in the world, like Sri Lanka and Burma. However, blue sapphires that are really top-quality are hard to find, making them special.

Tanzanite is a bit different. It’s newer to the gem world, found only in the 1960s, and comes from just one place: Tanzania. That makes tanzanite super rare. In fact, some say it’s even rarer than diamonds!

Comparing the two, while both are unique in their own ways, tanzanite takes the lead in rarity because it’s found only in one spot on Earth.

Tanzanite vs. Sapphire: Color

Pink sapphire ring
Pink sapphire ring. See this here.

Sapphire is best known for its deep blue hue, but what’s cool is that it can come in many other colors too, except red. The blue can range from light to very dark, almost black. The richness and variety of sapphire’s blue shades have made it a favorite for years.

Pear-shaped tanzanite earrings
Tanzanite or blue sapphire? Check if you were right here.

Tanzanite, on the other hand, has a unique color. It mixes blue with hints of purple, giving it a magical, vibrant look. Depending on the light, tanzanite can show different shades, which is super fascinating.

So, while sapphire offers a classic blue and other color, tanzanite impresses with its shifting blue-purple sparkle. Both are stunning in their own ways!

Tanzanite vs. Sapphire: Hardness and Durability

blue sapphire
Stunning blue sapphire. See more here.

This is where sapphire reigns. Sapphire ranks 9 on the Mohs scale, and is the third most durable gemstone used in jewelry, after diamonds and moissanite. It is not easily damaged or scratched and is excellent for everyday wear. This is part of the allure of using sapphires in engagement rings.

Tanzanite, on the other hand, is a much softer gemstone, ranking only 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale, making it even softer than quartz (a main ingredient in dust).  Tanzanite can easily be scratched and damaged and has poor toughness and cleavage, meaning that it can break if struck. For engagement rings, tanzanite is not recommended unless mounted in a secure setting and maintained with special care. Sapphire trumps tanzanite here as it is harder and tougher.

Tanzanite vs. Sapphire: Value and Price

Tanzanite studs
See tanzanite jewelry from Blue Nile.

Although tanzanite is the rarer of the two, blue sapphire is more in demand. All else being equal, sapphire is considerably more expensive than tanzanite. It’s also often considered a good investment gemstone, as the prices of colored gemstones increase due to demand. There are synthetic versions of sapphire on the market, which are more affordable, but these are not very valuable or highly regarded.

Every piece of tanzanite you see in stores is genuine since we haven’t figured out how to make it artificially. If you adore the look of sapphire but want a friendlier price, consider tanzanite. It’s not just beautiful but also rare, making it a sought-after gem for collectors. Many say tanzanite is the gemstone buy of our age because its value is likely to soar once it runs out in mines.

So, in terms of value, tanzanite takes the crown. It’s budget-friendly and might be a smart gemstone investment for the future.

Tanzanite vs. Sapphire: Status and Reputation

Blue sapphire ring
A designer sapphire ring. See it here.

Sapphire has always had a royal connection and was frequently worn by Royals and the clergy throughout history. It’s noteworthy that the world’s most famous engagement ring is the iconic blue sapphire ring of Princess Diana, worn now by Kate Middleton. It’s the most recognizable blue gemstone and among the most expensive.

While tanzanite is a newer gemstone on the block, it’s often hailed as the most stunning discovery in the past two millennia. Its allure and scarcity have rapidly propelled it into the limelight of the jewelry scene. Still, when it comes to longstanding prestige, sapphire has an edge, having been treasured for centuries.

For this round? Sapphire still holds its ground, enjoying a broader recognition and esteem than the newcomer, tanzanite.

Tanzanite vs. Sapphire: Origin and History

Blue sapphire oval cut
Blue sapphire. See this gemstone here.

For ages, sapphire has been the gemstone of choice, cherished in jewelry collections and worn by society’s elite, including royalty and religious figures. Derived from the mineral corundum, sapphire’s allure isn’t just its breathtaking blue but its rarity. The gem has select homes around the globe, with its most renowned sources being Sri Lanka, Burma, and the elusive Kashmir mines.

Beautiful tanzanite bracelet
Stunning tanzanite bracelet. See it here.

Enter Tanzanite, the gemstone newcomer. Unearthed in the 1960s, its name pays homage to its sole origin: Tanzania. Formed from the mineral zoisite, its uniqueness lies in its sheer scarcity. While it may lack the centuries-old legacy of sapphire, tanzanite has rapidly ascended the ranks, now sitting among the top-selling colored gemstones. When weighing their histories, sapphire takes the crown for its timeless prestige.

Where to Buy

In the vibrant world of gemstones, tanzanite and sapphire stand out with their alluring shades of blue. Selecting the perfect piece requires not just the right gem but the right store. Here are the retailers we recommend when shopping for tanzanite or blue sapphire.

  • James Allen: A trusted name online, James Allen allows a 360-degree gem view. Their sapphires, available in diverse styles, benefit from this detailed visualization.
  • Angara Jewelers: As gemstone specialists, Angara’s curated collection of tanzanite and sapphire stands out. Known for quality and artistry, they also provide customization for a personal touch.
  • Blue Nile: A trailblazer in online jewelry retail, Blue Nile presents an array of tanzanite and sapphire pieces. Their extensive range caters to varied tastes and budgets.
  • Brian Gavin: A hub for precision-cut gemstones, Brian Gavin also showcases tanzanite and sapphire in their collection. Ideal for those seeking bespoke designs with a touch of craftsmanship. Browse their collections here.
  • White Flash: While they shine in diamonds, White Flash also houses an elegant selection of sapphires. Their website provides clear images and detailed specifications for an informed choice.
  • Etsy: For those chasing unique, artisanal pieces, Etsy is the place. The platform boasts a myriad of handcrafted tanzanite and sapphire jewelry, each telling its own story.

Wrapping Up

If you’re seeking longevity and recognition, the timeless sapphire is your go-to. However, for those eyeing a cost-effective gem with promising investment prospects, tanzanite holds its ground. Ultimately, each stone has its distinctive charm, beckoning admirers in their own special way. Choose wisely, but remember – either way, you’re opting for beauty.

Related Articles

Gemstones And Their Role in Impacting Destiny

Organic Gemstones that Are Used in Jewelry

Anniversary Gemstones and Jewelry – A List

Best Places to Buy Gemstone Jewelry Online: Expert Picks

18 Amazing Gemstone Alternatives for Diamond Engagement Rings

25 Popular White and Colorless Gemstones Used in Jewelry

30 Most Popular Brown Gemstones to Use in Jewelry

27 Most Popular Grey Gemstones Used in Jewelry

25 Most Popular Red Gemstones Used in Jewelry

30 Most Popular Pink Gemstones to Use in Jewelry

Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years in the jewelry niche. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education. She has always been interested in expression through fashion and accessories, and her extensive experience in the field has made her a respected voice in jewelry trends and education. As the chief editor of Jewelry Shopping Guide, she not only leads the content strategy but also shares her insights through engaging articles. Her passion for storytelling is reflected in every piece she curates, exploring the intricate relationship between jewelry and personal identity.

Jewelry Guide