On Sunday, 9 February 2003, was the first time I got to see tanzanite released from the ground. The first shaft started by private company, African Gem Resources Limited (Afgem), was called JW Shaft and was named after one of its first miners on Block C, Ali Juu ya Watu. Ali thought it was an alluvial (transported from source and deposited) blue gem deposit, but little did he know, he managed to find where the newest and most exciting gem discovery of the century's ore body outcropped on surface.
Ali and his fellow workers created a small pit and stopped when all the gravels had been sorted through. Limited scratching into the hard rock then ensued over the years following. When Afgem got ownership of Block C in the late 90's, money was invested into understanding the geology and the best suited underground mining techniques as geological work quickly revealed a very complex structural and metamorphic origins.
The very first tanzanite I saw underground (pictured above) was dichroic in colour. The pieces found very gemmy, had great clarity and were deep blue and violet in colour. Natural dichroic tanzanite from the earth. The real treasures from within the earth. A site to behold.