L’Heure Bleu Earns A Guinness World Record

The world’s largest carved tanzanite, L’Heure Bleu, is only found in Tanzania and is one of many gems that are rarer than diamonds.

Guinness World Records recognized the L’Heure Bleu as the largest carved tanzanite in the world, hailing from Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The gemstone’s French name means “blue hour,” It reflects mesmerizing hues of purple, sometimes red, and mostly blue, according to the Gemological Institute of America. Its unparalleled brilliance can be seen through its carat size and unique hand carving, inviting many to admire its spectacular appearance.

Aside from the physical splendor of the L’Heure Bleu, it is about to make a life-changing cause to the people of Maasai. Naomi Sarna, the one who found and carved the tanzanite, put it up for sale, and its proceeds will go to the tribe.

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L’Heure Bleu at 703.4 carats

Guinness World Records mentioned Sarna achieved the record on March 9 in Hillsboro, Oregon. They declared the L’Heure Bleu as the largest cut tanzanite, weighing 703.4 carats (140.68 grams).

Sarna revealed she was invited to the Tanzanian mines to select a piece of gem to carve for a competition. “At the time, the Tanzanian government did not allow tanzanite larger than one gram to be exported,” she mentioned in her Instagram post. “To get a large enough piece of rough tanzanite, I had to start carving at the mine, working with a flashlight in a rubble-strewn room, finishing it when I got back to my studio.”

Naomi Sarna, who hand-carved the L’Heure Bleu, receives her Guinness World Record plaque in Oregon
Naomi Sarna, who hand-carved the L’Heure Bleu, receives her Guinness World Record plaque in Oregon/Photo via Instagram @naomisarnadesigns

The Guinness World Records sent an adjudicator to Oregon’s Rice Museum to verify that she had the largest carved tanzanite. Eventually, she snagged the title. 

“This is the cornerstone for our future hopes to provide eye care to the Maasai in Tanzania, the only place in the world where tanzanite is mined,” she said.

Guinness World Records remarked Sarna is popular in the gemstone community for her intricate gem carvings. She is also a sculptor. Tanzania commissioned her in 2010 to teach Maasai women how to create jewelry out of tanzanites.

Selling the largest carved tanzanite for a cause

Sarna explained the Maasai people touched her heart as they greeted her with warmth and their vibrant spirit. She expressed sadness as many of them suffer from eye disease. The poverty they experience do not help with their situation. 

“It made me determined to raise money to provide eye care for the Maasai,” she said. “My L’Heure Bleu carving is for sale on my website. It’s your chance to do good in the world and to also own a beautiful gemstone carving.” Proceeds from the sale will immediately go to the Casey Eye Institute to benefit the people from the tribe. 

The Maasai tribe is from Africa and resides across most parts of Kenya and northern Tanzania. They live nomadic and pastoralist (traveling with a herd of domesticated animals) lifestyles. Music, dance, and vocal harmonies form a significant part of their cultural expression.

The Maasai tribe believes keeping a herd of cattles is a symbol of sustenance and wealth
The Maasai tribe believes keeping a herd of cattles is a symbol of sustenance and wealth /Photo from Wikimedia Commons

L’Heure Bleu won first place in a Spectrum Award for carving from the American Gem Trade Association. The tanzanite itself sits on a sterling silver base that Tanzania’s Rift Valley inspired.

The L’Heure Bleu weighs 703.4 carats, the largest carving for tanzanite as per Guinness World Records.

Sarna did not set a specific cost for the tanzanite. The artist marked it as “price upon request” on her site.

Rarer than diamonds

According to the International Gem Society, tanzanites are rarer than diamonds. One of the factors that makes it so is that the precious stone can only be mined in the country. 

The organization said tanzanites, discovered in 1967, show pleochroism, meaning the gem has different colors. They range from violet, red, green-yellow to brown, red, and mostly blue, depending on the angle. Tanzanites, however, undergo heat treatment to produce its tantalizing blue colors that are stable, making them desirable. 

The society identified nine other gems that are rarer than diamonds: burma rubies, jadeites, alexandrites, paraiba tourmalines, ammolite, Kashmir sapphires, natural pearls, red beryls, and benitoite­­s.

Banner photo via Wikimedia Commons.

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