By Brecken Branstrator
I can’t get enough of all the jewelry books coming out right now.

I don’t know if we’ve just suddenly started hearing more about them or if there has actually been an increase in the number, but, whatever the case may be, it feels like the time of the jewelry book. And I love it.

There have been plenty that have popped up recently, including books on jewelry design and gems overall, but a new one came to our attention that puts the spotlight on one gemstone.

Tanzanite: Born From Lightning tells the story of the gem’s discovery in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro and its journey into the designer jewelry world, sharing personal accounts and experiences of the early prospectors who shaped its journey from mine to market, including how it got its name and came to join the modern-day birthstone list.

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Hayley Henning, the former executive director of the Tanzanite Foundation, the organization dedicated specifically to the promotion and protection of the stone, and Didier Brodbeck, the founder of Dreams magazine and Heure International, wrote the book. Brazilian jewelry designer Icaro Carlos did the art direction.

Born from Lightning also features a compilation of some of the world’s most prestigious brands, designers and jewelry makers--names like Lorenz Bäumer, Stephen Webster, Roberto Coin, Ruth Grieco, Brigitte Ermel, Wallace Chan and Erica Courtney--to showcase their most stunning creations using the gem.

The authors took more than two years to put the book together.

Tanzanite: Born from Lightning launched in September at the Hong Kong Gem and Jewelry Show and is available now for pre-order on Amazon for $79.95.
Attendees of the upcoming AGTA GemFair Tucson will also be able to buy the book at the event.

I recently asked Henning a few more questions about the book and its release; here’s what she had to say.

National Jeweler: Why did you feel like the time was right for the book, and why did you want to tell the story about tanzanite?

Hayley Henning: The book was a natural and obvious thing for me. After so many years of running the Tanzanite Foundation and working with industry stakeholders to promote the gem, it was something that I had always wanted to do. It just seemed right and would complete the circle of where I’d been in my career in the world of tanzanite.

My experience ran the full range from the mining operation to dealers and designers and everything in between--really bridging the gap between what went on at the mine to how these exquisite gems found themselves into the jewelry boxes of the most discerning jewelry and gem collectors.

20161129 Erica-Courtney-Tanzanite-earringsErica Courtney’s 18-karat gold tanzanite and diamond “Shayne” earrings 
Also, given that tanzanite is more popular now than ever before, and nothing like this has been done before, we thought it was time to showcase some of the most exquisite tanzanite jewels, and their designers, and put them together in this unusual compilation.  

Didier Brodbeck has done quite a number of gem and jewelry books already and after we met a few years ago in Paris, we started talking about doing something with tanzanite. Two years later, literally hundreds of emails back and forth, and even more Skype calls, we proudly launched Tanzanite: Born From Lighting.  

NJ: Can you give any examples about what kind of personal accounts and experiences from the prospectors are included in the book?

HH: There are a quite a few poignant and important personalities in the short history of tanzanite since its discovery in 1967. One of these gentlemen is the late Campbell Bridges, who, amongst so many of his incredible achievements, is noted for the introduction of tanzanite (and tsavorite) to Tiffany & Co. in the late ‘60s. There is a memoir from Campbell in the book kindly given to us by his son, Bruce Bridges.

There is also a story told by John Saul, who was also amongst the original dealers of tanzanite in the early days--his account comes from an article he wrote for Life magazine in early 1970, shortly after tanzanite was discovered. There are some other fun stories too, but one needs to turn the pages to see who else has contributed.

NJ: How do you think that adding tanzanite to the birthstone list has affected the gem?

HH: The official list of birthstones had been unchanged since the early 1900s, so when tanzanite was added as the birthstone for the month of December, not only did it give tanzanite a place amongst other birthstones, but it also gave it a recognition well overdue and very much deserved. It was also recognized as being important enough for the American Gem Trade Association to reopen the birthstone files to make the change. Because tanzanite is so rare and will only be around for one generation, we say that it is not only the official birthstone for December, but it is the birthstone for all babies born between 1967 and 2030, which are known to be the years in which tanzanite will be mined.  

NJ: What do you think is the future of the stone?

HH: Tanzanite is a non-renewable resource from only one place in the world. This alone speaks of its rarity, not to mention the incredible and exquisite color! Like with anything that has a limited availability, we see it getting more and more sought after as the years go on. Also, with recognition, tanzanite grows in popularity--as designers work with more and more tanzanite, and people become more acquainted with the stone, it becomes harder and harder to resist. From a price point of view, the opportunities are endless. There is no other natural gemstone with the same attributes (color, size potential, rarity) that compares.

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