Manuel de Souza at the site of the find
Manuel de Souza with a find
Photographs courtesy John Saul
|Tanzanite: Its discovery and early days. By John Saul
Summer 2007: InColor. Manuel de Souza was born in Goa in 1913 and moved to Tanganyika
in 1933 after qualifying as a Master Tailor … On 7 July 1967 prospecting near the village of Mtakuja,
southeast of Arusha he came across a transparent blue stone sitting on the surface of the
ground and registered his claim on 25 July … He showed samples to John Saul, an M.I.T. geologist,
who sent them to father, Hyman Saul in New York. Hyman showed them to Henry Platt, vice-president
of Tiffany who coined the name “tanzanite”.
Manuel De Souza died at age 56 on August 21, 1969 a week after an automobile accident on
the main road to Dar es Salaam … within a short time various fanciful versions of the tanzanite story began
to circulate … His son, Angelo de Souza has written: “European gem dealers soon learnt the true story and
Manuel’s discovery and his success swelled throughout Europe courtesy of social and factual magazines
including Bunte (Jan 69), Der Spiegel, Jasmine (7/7/69), Time (24/1/69) and Life (9/5/69).
Manuel’s children, Catherine, Cosma, Maryanne and Angelo and other members of his family are
now scattered in Tanzania, Denmark, Malta and the United Kingdom. For full text, 1607 words
John Saul can be contacted at
email@example.com His son is a gem trader in
Tanzania – check out his website www.swalagemtraders.com
Photographs courtesy John Saul
Discovery of Tanzanite.
merchants lose grip over trade in rare blue African
stone. Arab Times. 20 July 2003
3. Gemmy dodger. By Teresa Levonian
Cole. Financial Times. 29 Jan 2005.
4.Tanzanite: Mystery of the stone.
The East African. 21 March 2005.
C. Keller's in "Gemstones of EastAfrica"
1992, writes that the first report of tanzanite was
made in July 1967 by Manuel d'Souza, a Goan tailor
from Arusha, Tanzania who was prospecting for rubies
and was shown some unknown blue stones by a Masai
tribesman. He staked the first claims, then the secret
is one of the more recently discovered gemstones.
In July of 1967 a tailor named Manuel d'Souza from
the Indian province of Goa prospecting for rubies
was led to a deposit of blue stones by Maasai tribesmen.
(Granted, this means the Maasai discovered it, but
few places or things are considered "discovered"
until a foreigner names, promotes and markets them.)
D'Souza initially believed he had stumbled upon
sapphire, but found that the material was too soft
to be corundum. Laboratory investigation showed
that the stone was a previously unseen variety of
zoisite, already known in its green form. He registered
four claims with the mining office. Hot on his heels
was a former Greek army officer named Papanicholau
who was already involved in several gem ventures
in East Africa. The area, which became known as
Merelani Hill, swiftly became riddled with mines.
D'Souza was unable to maintain close control over
his claims and by his own estimate up to 80 percent
of his gems were stolen from him before he even
set eyes on them. Undiscouraged, he hooked up with
an African mine owner named Alli Juyawata, and shortly
after they were joined by Papanicholau.
This partnership was short-lived, ending in acrimony
and court action.
ABCs of Tanzanite
recent gemstone discovery has had more of an impact on the
world gemstone market than tanzanite. Portuguese prospector
Manuel d'Souza discovered this gem in Tanzania in 1967 while
searching for sapphire
merchants lose grip over trade in rare blue African stone
DELHI, (AFP) - After tapping a fad sparked by the film "Titanic"
in Africa's rare blue Tanzanite stones, Indian gem and jewellery
artisans are likely to lose out on a chunk of its global
Tanzania, the only place where Tanzanite is found, is no
longer keen to sell the rough stones to Indian firms which
cut and polish them and sell the sparkling gems at a higher
price in the world market. Instead, Tanzania wants to set
up its own processing centres to get a bigger share of the
This will cut off a major portion of the business for Indian
merchants who first put Tanzanite on the world's shopshelves
-- cashing in on demand triggered after Kate Winslet wore
a blue stone pendant in "Titanic" symbolising
her love for Leonardo DiCaprio.
Until now, almost 90 percent of the 16 million dollars in
exports of rough Tanzanite gems from Tanzania were being
sent to India for cutting and polishing.
"Negotiations between the Indian government and their
government are under way," said Sanjay Kothari, chairman
of India's Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC).
"What India has been suggesting is that since a manufacturing
base cannot be set up overnight and has to be done by-and-by,
India will train the people until they are ready."
Indian trade officials have suggested to Tanzania to continue
exports until its domestic base is ready as blocking shipments
of rough stones without having a setup for cutting and polishing
would crash their market value.
"It would definitely harm their industry as miners
will not want to mine them at all if there is no demand
for cut and polished stones," said Bakul Mehta, vice
chairman of GJEPC, who visited Tanzania last week to discuss
He added that setting up an entire cutting and polishing
stone industry based on a single gem would be risky. "The
strength we have here is we deal in a variety of stones
-- emeralds, sapphires, rubies, diamonds and Tanzanite."
The arguments seem to have cut ice with Tanzania as they
have dropped a proposal to stop the exports of rough Tanzanite
gems altogether from July and now are thinking of exporting
only a portion as sparkling stones, according to a letter
received by Indian traders.
The missive was in response to a letter written by India's
famed jewellers and gem cutters from the northwestern state
of Rajasthan's capital Jaipur, for whom the stone accounts
for around a quarter of their exports.
Jaipur's artisans have come to rely heavily on the Tanzanite
business as they were the first to promote the gem in the
The story here goes that the association with India began
after an Indian entrepreneur from the coastal state of Goa
struck fortune in Tanzania after Masai tribesmen led him
to a deposit of the stones in the 1970s.
After he cut and polished them, they glowed with a rare
blue fire equalled only by sapphire. However, the stone
remained in low demand in the world market until "Titanic"
was released in 1997 and spurred a run on blue stones.
Experts say that Tanzanite is a variant of a more commonly
found green-coloured stone called Zoisite.
India's trade in the gem had hit a rough patch once before
when several years ago media reports alleged that funds
used out of the sale of Tanzanite were being funnelled to
the al-Qaeda terrorist network.
"That was all rubbish. The total market share of Tanzania
in the world market is peanuts. It was cleared by the US
State Department and established that there was no such
link," said Rajiv Jain, convenor of the GJEPC's gemstone
Since then, the controversy has died and trade picked up
to normal levels, jewellers said.
Photograph courtesy John Saul
Financial Times 29 January 2005
By Teresa Levonian Cole
is a tale of romance, intrigue and controversy. A tale that
unites the unlikely personages of a Masai warrior, a Goan
tailor and the president of Tiffany's in New York. Its subject,
of rare beauty, was born millions of years ago when the
clash of tectonic plates created the optimal conditions
of chemistry, temperature and pressure. It slept undisturbed
until the 1960s, woke only recently to a transient blaze
of publicity, and is soon to vanish forever, if gemologists
can be believed.
The story is that of tanzanite, the extraordinary blue stone
that has been in the news of late thanks to the purchase
of Afgem, now TanzaniteOne, and their efforts to impose
the first-ever grading system on coloured stones (traditionally,
it is only diamonds that adhere to a generally accepted
scale). It begins, however, in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro,
in northern Tanzania, some 50 years ago.
to the most accepted account, in 1967 a Masai warrior (attribution
varies) came across a piece of translucent rock of vivid
blue-violet hue some 40km south-east of Arusha, amid the
metamorphic rocks of the Merelani Hills, and took the 10,000
carat rough stone to Manuel d'Souza, a Goan tailor and amateur
prospector based in Arusha.
Souza, hoping that the find might prove to be sapphire,
in turn showed the stone to Dr John Saul, an MIT-trained
geologist and gem dealer in Nairobi, who had already uncovered
ruby and aquamarine deposits in Kenya.
father immediately realised that this was something special,
but obviously not sapphire," says his son, Eric Saul,
co-owner with his brother, Mark, of Swala Gem Traders in
Arusha. "The colour was too deep. He had never seen
anything like it. So he sent it to a lab in Germany, which
ascertained that the stones shared the same chemical composition
and orthorhombic crystallography as zoisite".
itself is nothing to write home about; a relatively widespread
mineral discovered in 1805 by the Austrian Baron von Zois.
This stone, however, was different. The only transparent,
gem-quality crystal of zoisite in existence, and coloured
by the rare presence of vanadium, it exhibited a mesmerisingly
rich purplish-blue vitreous lustre. With its only known
source being a narrow strip of land, 5km by 2km long near
Kilimanjaro, beauty and rarity combined.
Saul hastened to cut the first ever blue zoisite gems -
two large oval stones of 15 carats and 19 carats respectively
- and sent them to his father, Hyman Saul, the then vice-president
of Saks 5th Avenue, a store conveniently located next to
Tiffany's, where Henry Platt, great-grandson of Louis Comfort
Tiffany, was quick to recognise the value of the find.
this to be "the most beautiful blue stone discovered
in over 2000 years", Platt re-christened the gem by
the more euphonious name of "tanzanite", and launched
it on the market in October 1968.
Mystery of the stone
is no conflict as to where the tanzanite is found in the
world. But there is still no consensus as to who 'discovered'
the gemstone. A special report from Arusha
is no doubt whatsoever that the violet-blue gemstone tanzanite
was discovered in the Mererani Hills of Tanzania in the
mid 1960s and that the country remains the sole source of
genuine tanzanite jewellery till today.
despite the over four decades that have passed since the
first find, it is still not clear as to who discovered the
officially recognises Jumanne Ngoma as the person
who discovered the precious stone on the hills of
Mererani, a few kilometres from Arusha town.
variety of Tanzanite Jewellery.
late first president Julius Nyerere directed that
Ngoma, from Same district, in Kilimanjaro region be
awarded with a certificate recognising his discovery.
But other stakeholders oppose the singling
out of Ngoma for credit and two other prospectors, Ali Juuyawatu
and Manuel d'Souza, are frequently mentioned as others who
could possibly have discovered the gem. Juuyawatu is an
expert in mineral prospecting and a household name in tanzanite
interviewed at Mererani, mention Juuyawatu as the first
person they associate with tanzanite. His children, also
miners at Mererani insist that it was their late father
who discover the tanzanite but that he was not recognised
because he died long before the blue stone became internationally
a Tanzanian of Indian origin, was a prospector in the wilds
of Tanzania who later worked with Juuyawatu in the mining
business, further confusing the issue of who discovered
explanation given is that d'Souza, a tailor, was led to
a deposit of tanzanite by Maasai tribesmen including Juuyawatu.
Mollel, chairman of the Tanzania Mineral Dealers Association
(Tamida), says credit should go to d'Souza. The president
and chief executive officer of TanzaniteOne, Ian Harebottle
gives the credit to Juuyawatu.
Saitore Kaaya, now 77, who at the time of the discovery
was a village elder in an area encompassing Mererani, says
it was Juuyawatu who made the discovery but d'Souza who
introduced the stone to Henry Platt of Tiffany and Company,
the US company which, named the new gem "Tanzanite."
is a typically African, scenario: few places or things are
considered discover until a foreigner promotes and markets
settle the issue of who takes credit for the discovery,
Mzee Kaaya says, "Why not simply say a group of herdsmen
came across Tanzanite crystals, collected them up, bartered
and traded until an unknown trader who knew about gems and
the world market introduced it to the rest of the world
on their behalf?"
any case, it is acknowledged that a Tanzanian discovered
the gemstone but d'Souza and Juuyawatu (or even Ngoma) went
further than the local herdsmen when they officially staked
a claim and began commercial mining.
one of the men whom Mollel says should be considered the
"discoverers" of the stone, initially believed
he had stumbled upon sapphire, but found that the stone
was too soft for that.
investigations later showed that the stone was a previously
undiscovered variety of zoisite, already known in its green
registered four claims with the mining office. Hot on his
heels came a former Greek army officer named Papanicholau
who was already involved in several gem ventures in East
Africa. The area, which became known as Mererani Hill, was
soon dotted with mines.
could not control mining on his claimed stake and by his
own estimate, up to 80 per cent of the gems from his mines
were stolen before he even set eyes on them.
and his partner Juuyawatu were later joined by Papanicholau,
but the partnership was short-lived, ending in acrimony
and court action.
Tanzania government took control of the mines in 1971, under
the name Tanzanian Gemstone Industries, and they were turned
over to the State Mining Corporation (Stamico) in 1976.
Alas, stamico's mining methods allegedly reduced production
the end of the 1970s, Tiffany's which had named and promoted
tanzanite, stopped purchasing it because of erratic supply.
the late 1980s, the government of Tanzania "lost control"
of the Mererani mining area and thousands of artisan miners
flocked in, but by 1991 the government regained control
and has since been issuing licenses to private domestic
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