Tanzanite GIA Color Scale

Tanzanite GIA Color Scale and Tanzanite Color

A topic related to tanzanite which has caused quite a bit of confusion within the last couple of years is that of accurately describing the color of tanzanite in gemological terms. It seems as though tanzanite has been graded via marketing terms, such as "A", "AA", "AAA", for many years. While this, for the most part, is acceptable, it has left many consumers trying to understand just what is going on.

Tanzanite Hue (Color)

Hue is the shade, sensation or tint of a color. GIA recognizes over 30 hues and the their complete color scale (a.k.a. GIA GemSet) has over 320 hues with varying levels of tone and saturation. Just remember, the "hue" of a tanzanite refers to its basic coloration.

Tanzanite Tone (Lightness/Darkness of the Color/Hue)

Tone is the relative lightness or darkness of a hue. The GIA scale is divided into 11 grades, 0 to 10, with 0 being colorless to 10 being black.

Tanzanite Saturation (Strength or purity of a Color/Hue)

Other than hue (color), saturation is the strength (purity) of a hue and is considered by most gemological professionals to be the most important component in grading tanzanite. The GIA scale of measurement goes from 1 to 6. The lower numbers such as 1, 2 or 3 of warm colors such as red, orange or yellow and tend to look brownish and the cool colors such as blue and green tend to look grayish. Level 4 no longer shows either grayishness or brownishness, while neither is strong or weak. Level 5 is strong and level 6 being vivid, almost over-colored. We consider Level 5 to be the best color and best value in fine tanzanite.






grayish in cool colors / brownish in warm colors



slightly grayish in cool colors / brownish in warm colors



very slightly grayish / brownish in warm colors



moderately strong







Standardized GIA Tanzanite Color Ratings

After a quick read of the above information, it is hopeful that you have a better understanding of how gem color is determined. Now, here are a few examples of how a color code given to a tanzanite may be understood in simple terms:

  • vb1 or vBgr = violetish blue showing grayish overtones of color
  • vb2 or vBslgr = violetish blue showing slightly grayish overtones of color
  • vb3 or vBvslgr = violetish blue showing very slightly grayish overtones of color
  • vB4 or vBmst = violetish blue showing moderately strong saturation of color
  • vB5 or vBst = violetish blue showing strong saturation of color
  • vB6 or vBv = violietish blue showing vivid saturation of color

All tanzanite stocked by eTanzanite.com is comprised of the top 2 color grades, with the majority of tanzanite possessing vB5 and vB6 colors. Once in a great while, we will offer a parcel of smaller stones which will grade vB3 or vB4. The latter colors in tanzanite are generally seen only in the smaller sizes and are priced accordingly. Remember, if the depth of the stone is excessive, it is possible that the tanzanite will show very little color under natural light. Yes, it will show dark, but the focus needs to be on color. Very dark tanzanite, similar to recommendations made regarding blue sapphire, should be avoided. So, the common myth, "darker is better," is simply untrue.


While it is difficult, due to monitor settings differing from display to display, the above color bar is intended to give you an approximation of the range of colors in tanzanite. Please click over to our tanzanite pictures section to see if you are able to determine the gemological color of the tanzanites you see. To give you some frame of reference, Picture 1 is vB5+, Picture 9 is vB5, Picture 32 is vB4, and Picutre 72 is vB6. Have fun practicing!

tanzanite oval tanzanites