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Tunduru sapphire - tundura/tundra/tundru

Posted by sapphire  
sapphire March 05, 2008 09:33PM

I buy gemstone beads, and someone on another forum suggested I post here with this question that's been nagging at me:

This issue has been bothering me again lately as I still see strands of colored gemstones labeled as "tunduru sapphire"

Just the other day I asked the vendor, isn't tunduru sapphire just garnet? and they said yes. But I've still been unable to find much definitive information about this seeming misnomer online.

Same as how smoky quartz is often labeled as some version smoky topaz or something like that, they're often even placed together, and yet the "topaz" will sell at 2 to 3 times of the smoky quartz.

The things that have always seemed off to me about tunduru sapphire is -
- it is often the same color as multicolor garnet
- it costs much less than sapphire of the same size, saturation and clarity (yet more than garnets)
- it just doesn't have the same "look" refraction/reflection as sapphire
- the colors are too clean and saturated to be turned into beads at that price
- but the funny thing about it is they often throw in a deep indicolite/blue tourmaline colored bead into the mix, and as far as I know, blue garnets are very rare and only recently found.

Is it possible that "tunduru sapphires" aren't all garnets but a mix of strongly colored gemstones of all types? I don't have a scale to test density or anything like that, but this issue w/
tunduru sapphires drives me nuts and i figured by now someone must have come up w/ a definitive answer

Sometimes I think maybe they are like "umba" or "sri-lanka" sapphires.. that they come from a specific area. It seems often umba sapphire beads are so named because of their color.. sort of like "kashmir" sapphires in the cut gemstone market. But the color and price for tunduru's don't seem to make any sense

Any one know anything about these sapphires?
They are also spelled as: tundura, tundru, tundra

Other common marketing names for sapphires (rondelles and briolettes) in the gemstone bead business are: "umba sapphires" (opaque/translucent multipastel), "thai sapphires" (tiny drop shaped briolettes that are mostly clear in yellow/orange/greens), "pink sapphires" (always translucent/opaque and pink), and recently "ceylon sapphires" (light blue w/ heavy zoning)

thanks for any clues!
Ray Ladbury March 08, 2008 07:44PM
Hi, Tunduru is indeed a site in Tanzania that produces sapphire, along with many other gem minerals. Whether what you have is from Tunduru, or what it is (e.g. real vs synthetic sapphire, garnet, etc. depends on the honesty of the salesman. Umba is another sapphire producing locality.
Paul Stahl April 17, 2008 09:42PM
Ray is spot on.
John Almasi April 17, 2012 01:52PM
The only Tunduru sapphires that I ever knew were fine blue, unheated sapphires that normally cut stones up to 1 ct. in size. There were largrer pieces that were called "gauda" and required heat treatment to bring out what is known as "fine blue" color. These stones were up to several grams in size and were very expensive. The last smaller sized Tunduru sapphire that I saw for sale was several hundreds of dollars per carat in the rough - natural fine blue sapphire is not easy to come by. I started getting this material at Muhuvesi on the Ruvuuma River in 1995 and saw it for about six years. Anything that is not a fine blue or blue/violet color, except for the occaisional yellow or red, is not tunduru sapphire. If you actually have any tunduru sapphire, I would hold on to it forever. They cut remarkable stones.
Tim Jokela Jr May 30, 2012 04:57PM
Looking for genuine gemstones in the bead world? I'd suggest you're looking in the wrong place. Tons of dying, treating, misnaming, and fakery, best to give it a pass if you care at all what the stuff actually is.
Nico Peter March 12, 2015 02:14PM
Hi there,

I want to know about the gemstone in Tunduru. My name is Nico Peter I am stay in Moshi town, I have my friend who is stay in London he send me the email and he want to know about the gemstone.

Please call me +255 754 567 203

Best regards

Owen Melfyn Lewis March 12, 2015 03:34PM
Hello Nico,

We don't know what your friend in London wants to know about and what types of gem he is interested in so no help is possible..

The Natural History Museum in Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London has a wonderful collection of gems and other minerals too. You might suggest that he go over there for a few hours, look at the collection and, if he has any detailed question, discuss it directly with the staff there?
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