Reviewed by Cynthia Unninayar
The book, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, written by Ernest Hemingway and published in 1936, made the snow-covered peak a household name. But the book barely scratched the surface of the famous mountain and the secrets that lay beneath.
The story of tanzanite and its discovery is as lovely as the famous mountain itself. As the Maasai people tell it, lightning struck a tree in Northern Tanzania many moons ago. Fire spread through the Savannah, burning everything in its path. Rocks were heated by the intense flames, and soon glowed white and then became an amazing purplish-blue color.
In 1967, a Tanzanian named Jumanne Mhero Ngoma found some of these blue stones as he walked in the Merelani Hills of the Manyara Region, near the city of Arusha and Mount Kilimanjaro. Several decades later, this remarkable stone would feature in the creations of some of the world’s most famous jewelry brands and designers.
Written by Didier Brodbeck and Hayley Henning, the book, Tanzanite − Born from Lightning, details the blue stone’s journey from the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro to the jewelers’ window. Over a number of chapters, the book explains the origin of the blue mineral, its discovery and early days, including how it received its name, and the manner in which it has transformed this area in East Africa—the only place in the world where tanzanite is found. The book also details the pivotal role played by the legendary Campbell Bridges in bringing this beautiful gem to the world.
When I first saw the book at its launch in Hong Kong a few months ago, I was very impressed by its detailed discussion and description of the blue gem. It also bought back memories of my previous visits to
Arusha and the tanzanite mines, with the very majestic Mount Kilimanjaro towering in the background. What is also important is that the gem is unique to this area, and supplies will not last indefinitely.
Perhaps most impressive in this coffee table book is the number and variety of detailed photographs of some of the exquisite jewels that have been inspired by tanzanite.
Produced by a wide range of creators, from global luxury brands to small artisanal designers, more than 100 images capture the beauty and uniqueness of the purplish-blue gemstone. For anyone who loves tanzanite or books on beautiful jewelry, you will be happy to have Tanzanite − Born from Lightning on your bookshelf.
TANZANITE – BORN FROM LIGHTNING
Authors: Didier Brodbeck and Hayley Henning
Art Direction: Icaro Carlos
Hardcover: 196 pages
Publisher: Watchprint.Com Sarl
Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds