Winza, Tanzania - Spectacular Ruby-Sapphire Combinations!

Dec 23, 2013

A small trickle of these fabulous gem sapphires and rubies started to bleed out to our world from the gem and faceting community. Loose crystals only came over at first, until the collectors realized they could get more for matrix specimens than for cutting rough bits. One shudders to think how much of this material was already cut for faceting rough, or broken off matrix, before thought was given to saving some of these jewels for specimen collectors! The color of corundum from this locality varies from rich lilac and purple sapphire to a nearly blood-red (and quite valuable) ruby color with intense saturation. Often the crystals are attractively multi-colored and zoned. Thus they make for fascinating specimens from several points of view, beauty and scientific both. Most crystals are not entirely gemmy, but translucent with pocket gem zones within.

An exceptional fine mineral from Winza, Tanzania. This sapphire/ruby on matrix is one of a kind.
An exceptional fine mineral from Winza, Tanzania. This sapphire/ruby on matrix is one of a kind.

Thus, many have already been cut for the ruby value, which can be astronomical in the finished product compared to the specimen value: An approximately 2 carat cut stone was recently offered in a public Natural History auction for $9000 per carat! So, the cut gems from here can attain quality enough to fetch prices that previously were reserved for Burmese rubies. For specimen collectors however, the sharp habit and intense color of these crystals is unlike ruby specimens from other localities, and immediately recognizable as something “new”. Unfortunately, the Tanzanians have learned about specimens in recent years and recognize this as well; so the prices are not cheap at the source even from the get-go, aside from the problem that intrinsic gemstone value makes it a challenge to get these rubies to the specimen market before they are cobbed up into pieces for easy money on the gem market. Nevertheless, now that there is an awareness of the specimen desirability here, I think we will see more trickle out.

A doubly-terminated beauty from Winza, Tanzania. A whopping 33.3 ct sapphire/ruby!
What a doubly-terminated beauty from Winza, Tanzania! A whopping 33.3 carat sapphire/ruby.

Love Corundums? Check our gallery of available specimens.