Blue Sapphire vs. Tanzanite: Understanding the stones and their differences

Blue is widely recognized as the colour of peace, tranquillity, knowledge and stability. So it is no wonder that this beautiful colour is an extremely popular choice for gemstones. The tremendous popularity of blue gemstones can be attributed to the widespread perception of blue gems being classy and regal. As such, blue gemstones have carved a legacy for themselves in various cultures, traditions and communities across the globe. In today's thriving gem industry, custom cut sapphire and custom cut tanzanite are extremely sought-after stones. 

Blue Sapphire


There is a wide variety of blue gemstones to choose from, and tanzanite and sapphire are the two most beloved and popular gemstones among people for their grandeur and beauty. In fact, these precious stones are quite popular as engagement rings and have become popular culture icons in this regard. That said, it is debatable which gem is better out of the two. While both tanzanite and sapphire have their own properties, it can be extremely difficult to distinguish between them. This is where this write-up comes into the picture. This write-up will help you recognize the primary distinctions between the two, and accordingly, you can choose between the two based on factors beyond mere aesthetics. With that being said, let’s begin!

Differentiating between the two stones

 The rich history of the stones

Tanzanite is relatively a newbie in the world of gemstones. It was discovered in the late sixties and got its name from Tanzania, where it was first discovered. It is made from the mineral zoisite and is a pretty rare gemstone.

Sapphire is a very popular gemstone and has been used for centuries by the elite and royal classes. It is made from the mineral corundum and is found in regions like Sri Lanka, Kashmir and Burma. A high-quality blue sapphire is a rare sight to behold! Although sapphire has a long and renowned history to it, tanzanite has also gained popularity in the past few years. It has established itself as one of the top ten bestselling coloured gemstones on a global level.

Just how rare are these gemstones?

Both being such valuable gemstones, sapphire and Tanzanite are rare… quite rare, in fact. Tanzanite, in particular, takes the factor of rarity to another level. Indeed, tanzanites are among the rarest gems in general, being a thousand times rarer than diamonds!

In any case, because of the geologic area of their sources, it is considerably harder to track down quality tanzanites than sapphires since their mines are not as easily created. The most prominent mine produces around 1.6 kg of unpleasant produce each month; the Namanga mine in Tanzania created roughly 6.9 mg between 1990-1995. The Zaire Maiwa store in Tanzania's Kahama locale yielded just 3.3 mg during that equivalent period. Tanzanite is generally created in little amounts at the world's surface. As such, it is mined by conventional techniques or eliminated physically from alluvial rock, implying that a singular excavator has just a slight possibility of hitting a decent pocket. Likewise, its more modest size and colour variations make it hard to sell.

Their stance in the market

Tanzanite adornments like tanzanite pendants and tanzanite stud hoops are more significant than sapphires because supply is less accessible than demand- yet all inside sensible cutoff points are quite close to one another.

In the century when sapphires were accepted to be an assortment of rubies, the market went through a drastic but welcome change. That is when manufactured engineered materials and pearls utilized for normal purposes showed up in gem stores in Europe. Subsequently, Tanzanite was presented as another option.

Nonetheless, because supply was scant and its quality was not as uniform or ensured contrasted with precious stones, this assortment encountered a slower acknowledgment by the mid-1970s, which began to change as more customers became mindful of the gemstone's accessibility. Soon, they gained widespread prominence as their demand in the market skyrocketed.

Today, following two centuries of exhibiting endeavours by diamond setters represent considerable authority in hued stones (for example, Tiffany's established in 1837). They have gained high regard and value similar to other valuable gemstones like rubies or emeralds. Since its disclosure in 1961, it has won the moniker of "The Forever Gem" for being an ideal and timeless stone for any adornments.

Are these blue gemstones qualified for daily usage?

Tanzanite ranks 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, categorizing it as a softer gemstone. It is easily prone to scratch and damage and has poor toughness and cleavage. It is worth noting that tanzanite makes for great earrings and necklaces. As such, if you are involved in work that requires extensive use of hands, then tanzanite may not be ideal. That said, tanzanite's superior rarity makes it a hugely popular choice for jewellery.

On the other hand, Sapphire ranks 9 on the Mohs scale and is highly durable and tough. It cannot be easily scratched and damaged and is great for everyday wear. So it isn’t a surprise that sapphire is extensively used to make engagement rings and other jewellery. In a nutshell, sapphire is the clear winner as it is harder and tougher than tanzanite. It is second only to diamond in terms of hardness and as such, is suitable for daily wear.

More details on the gorgeous colours of the two gemstones

The colour of the two stones is blue, but they differ in many ways in terms of the hues displayed by either. Nonetheless, tanzanite has a substantially more striking tint of blue than sapphire. In nature, sapphire comes in practically every colour of the rainbow and has a rich, deep hue. Blue sapphires display the colour blue in all its glory. Sparkling, vibrant, and deep, blue sapphire is the go-to pure blue gemstone.

Tanzanite comes in breathtaking beautiful hues of blue and purple. The colour of the tanzanite is almost similar to that of the sapphire and is difficult to distinguish. However, they are traditionally more vibrant for tanzanite and exhibition pleochroism. As a virtue of this property, tanzanites display different shades of blue when viewed from different angles.

Heat treatment

How tanzanites are frequently heated to work on their colour (to make them appear like sapphires) makes them considerably less significant than normally occurring ones. A few kinds of counterfeit tanzanites shouldn't be heat-treated (particularly those with pale blue tones). This technique delivers an alternate jewel called "synthetic coloured" rather than regular.

Their worth in the market

The worth of tanzanite is fundamentally high because it is comparatively rarer and less accessible than sapphire. Even the most modest pieces are treated as very important, even though costs rely upon the gemstone's quality, size, and colour. A sapphire or tanzanite with an oval shape will cost much higher than a round-cut stone of comparable size and quality. Colours with extraordinary saturation are also on the costlier side.

Although tanzanite is a rarer gemstone, the demand for sapphires is comparatively high. As such, sapphires are more expensive than tanzanite. The most valuable blue gemstones are sourced from Tanzania, East Africa. Huge, fine-quality tanzanites are very costly and intriguing. So, if you want something more affordable, then tanzanite can be your go-to choice, while sapphires have a more stable demand.


When compared with status and reputation, sapphire is definitely a clear winner. Royals have worn sapphire, and, in fact, the most famous engagement ring of all time (that the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, has worn) is a blue sapphire. It is one of the most expensive and acknowledged blue gemstones. So it can be understood why tanzanite cannot compete with this reputation because it is a newer addition to the world of gemstones. Although it should be noted that it is a rare gemstone and has acquired the status of being the most beautiful stone discovered in the last 2000 years.

Summing up the differences between tanzanite and blue sapphire

Basis of comparison




Shows different colours when viewed from different angles.

Has a wide range of colours like green, pink and yellow. Blue is the most popular.


Can be easily faceted into popular gemstone shapes.

Can be easily faceted into popular gemstone shapes


Are not treated but can be treated to enhance colour and remove undesirable tints.

It is usually heat treated for better colour and clarity.


Belongs to zoisite variety

Is made of corundum


Has a Mohs hardness ranking of 6 to 6.5.

Has a Mohs hardness ranking of 9.


Typically has small inclusions.

Typically has inclusions.


Requires maintenance and care to prevent scratching and dullness.

Comparatively easy to maintain and care for.

Carat size

Tanzanite comes in smaller sizes for jewellery.

Ranges in sizes can be found in sapphires.


Affordable and rare

Expensive because of its high demand and is a good investment option.


Depicts wisdom, truth and dignity.

Depicts power, kindness, hope and fortune.


Both gemstones have their own unique properties, and it totally depends on your preference. If you are searching for an investment− assuming you believe your cherished one should see the value in the jewel's worth and save it as a family legacy for ages − Tanzanite is your go-to choice. And if you are looking to purchase a fascinating present for somebody who likes blue stones that can be worn consistently without hassles, then blue is the way to go!

Buy the best quality tanzanite and sapphire from Iris Gems

If you are searching for the best sapphire and tanzanite gemstones at a reasonable cost, Iris Gems is your one-stop destination. At Iris Gems, you can rest assured of the highest quality and standards. Furthermore, we have a tremendous assortment of blue sapphire and tanzanite gemstones for you to choose from.

Iris Gems is your go-to destination in Toronto for the finest quality and variety of certified gemstones for any occasion or need. We leave no stone unturned in understanding your requirements and creating the perfect gem for you.

Are you looking for custom cut tanzanite and custom cut sapphire jewellery? Our in-house designers will work with you to create a gorgeous piece that is unique to you. Rest assured that all our jewellery is expertly crafted to the highest quality and standards. We can ensure that we have the right jewellery for you!

Get in touch with us today to explore a wide array of options and find the right, one-of-a-kind tanzanite or blue sapphire exclusively made for you.

We also have confidence in offering our clients unquestionably the best, and we promise you unmatched quality of our items or services. Our exceptional cuts have gotten a few honours and are well-reputed among our clients. We constantly strive for innovation, and accordingly, we've been at the cutting edge of a few industry advancements.