What to Know about Zanzibar Sunburst Zircon

| 3 min read

This is the tale of the rock in the sea that is the gateway to the most unique variety of the oldest gem in the world…

Gem quality Zircon is extremely rare. It might surprise you to know that this in stark contrast to gem quality Diamonds. It is thought that if Zircon was mined on the same scale as Diamonds are, every Zircon mine in the world would be depleted within a year. We heard of a new Tanzanian Zircon mine late last year. This was a mine like no other. This was a mine that was producing colour.


Gemporia’s Head Gem Purchaser, Jake Thompson-Bennett was recently married. He and his new wife Hannah, chose the beautiful island of Zanzibar, off the eastern coast of Tanzania for their honeymoon. While they were there in June 2016, Jake first encountered this Zircon first hand.

Jake and Hannah decided to take a trip to Stone Town, the old part of Zanzibar City, the capital. Stone Town has a huge jewellery quarter, with narrow winding streets full of bazaars, hustle and bustle and an extraordinary assortment of beaded jewellery and loose gemstones. The local gem merchants are fully aware that tourists frequent the island year round and might enjoy a memento from their trip. Hundreds of kilos of top grade Tanzanite pass through these streets every year, shipped from the mainland. Hannah and Jake were meandering through the cobbled streets when Jake spotted something hidden amongst the Tanzanite parcels which stood out. A striking, peach to orange Zircon. He was instantly mesmerised.

Taking time out from his own Honeymoon to discover more, Jake traced this stunning stone back to its source. He discovered it had come from mainland Tanzania – just a stone’s throw from the Tanzanite mines. It had been shipped over by the same gem merchants, who looking to sell their more-famous Tanzanites to wealthy tourists, had almost overlooked this unusual stone. Jake flew straight into Kilimanjaro and met the mine owner there.


The mine owner explained to Jake that this mine was very similar to the famous Argyle Diamond mine in Australia, in the fact that it only produces colourful gems. Argyle isn’t famed for its White Diamonds; instead it is world renowned for its Champagne and Pink Diamonds. This is the same for this deposit, its production is focused primarily on its unique coral to orange varieties. This captivating colour reminded Jake of the glowing pinks through to burnt oranges as the setting sun’s rays burst out from behind the clouds in this beautiful part of the world. In honour of cutting his honeymoon short to discover the source of this wonder, Jake chose to name the gem ‘Zanzibar Sunburst Zircon’.

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