Hot New Gemstones: Pink and Green Tanzurine Quartz from Tanzania

“The roads are dirty and rocky all the way through the bush. We go through small Maasai hutted villages. It’s difficult to get good equipment, so a lot is done with big picks and manual labor.” That is just a snippet of how Jonathan Bartky describes what it’s like to try to recover pink and green quartz rough to cut and polish into gemstones from Maasai tribal lands in Tanzania.

ABOVE: Cherry Tanzurine quartz still in the ground, with Jonathan Bartky resting on it; photo courtesy Jonathan Bartky.

children at hut near gemstone mines

“The roads to the mine are treacherous,” reports Jonathan Bartky. “Dirty, rocky, windy and remote. If a vehicle breaks down, it can be days before help arrives–and there’s not necessarily a mechanic at the nearest hut!” Photo: Jonathan Bartky

 

pink and green quartz rough gemstones from Ariel Treasures at Quartzsite, aka Cherry and Emerald Tanzurine

Ariel Treasures offering pink and green quartz rough at Quartzsite as Cherry and Emerald Tanzurine. As confirmed by analysis performed by Loretta Dickson of Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania for an upcoming article in Rocks & Minerals on the material co-authored with John S. White, the cherry material contains the pinkish/purplish mica lepidolite; the more translucent green contains chromium. Photo: Jonathan Barkty

Through his firm, Ariel Treasures, Jonathan is importing the material to the U.S. for wholesale distribution under the names “Cherry Tanzurine” and “Emerald Tanzurine.” In early January, he was offering both pink and green rough for cabochon gemstones and beads at the 2018 Quartzsite shows, then heading to Tucson’s Pueblo show at the Riverpark Inn.

bracelet made of cherry tanzurine gemstones

Cherry Tanzurine bracelet shows a range of shades of pink; photo: J.S. White

Jonathan has been involved in gemstones and minerals since childhood, and has spent many years in the business importing material from Brazil and elsewhere under the name Bartky Minerals, which became a family business when his parents joined him. After a chance encounter with some of the “cherry” quartz, which an acquaintance had shown him two years ago, Jonathan turned his attention to this material, convinced his parents to invest in his new gem business, and headed to Africa.

Cherry Tanzurine pendant created by lapidary and silversmith Leif Helgeson; photo: Jonathan Bartky

Cherry Tanzurine pendant created by lapidary and silversmith Leif Helgeson; photo: Jonathan Bartky

“We are talking about northern Tanzania, near the Kenyan border, not far from the Serengeti Wildlife Preserve,” Jonathan further describes the area. Although “the locals do use many natural materials in their handcrafts,” he adds, “the Cherry is a new find on a mountain and was only discovered about two years ago. Tanzanians themselves are not yet familiar with it, and the only Tanzurine being used are the gemstones we provided to the Maasai women to make earrings and beaded crowns with.”

The mining operations employ locals, however. “We do have compressors so are able to use equipment such as pnuematic hammers and drills. But that requires generators and a good gas supply–so, really, manual labor is the mainstay.”

volcano near tanzurine gemstone mines

On his way to and from the remote locality, Jonathan views this ancient volcano. He has also encountered giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, wild donkeys, baboons, and monkeys running free and occasionally stopping traffic; photo: Jonathan Bartky

Much of the “cherry” is on the dark side. Some contains visible flecks of pinkish/purplish lepidolite mica, lending the quartz both color and sparkle. The generally more translucent “emerald Tanzurine” contains chromium, giving this quartz its green color. Currently, says Jonathan, he is selling “pieces of Tanzurine to stores in mostly 2- to 5-pound packages, and larger rough to decorators and lapidaries for cabs and spheres.” He adds that they are also starting to offer jewelry and do some of their own cutting.

lapidary cutting tanzurine guartz gemstones

It’s quartz, and miner, silversmith, and lapidary Leif Helgeson finds that Tanzurine cuts and polishes well; photo: Jonathan Bartky

In addition to the new quartzes, Ariel Treasures wholesales other gem materials and mineral specimens. These include cachalong white opal, ruby-in-zoisite, tanzanite crystals and rough, citrine crystals, smoky quartz crystals, amethyst, sunstone, garnets, tourmaline, blue and orange kyanite, and other gemstones.

 

Merle White is Editor-in-Chief of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist.


Learn more about metalsmithing and gemstones in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine!

 

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