Whilst amazing quality Spessartite Garnets have been mined in this area for many generations, the quality and clarity of Tulelei is something new, exciting and world class.
Tulelei has a refractive index of 1.790 – 1.810. It might not quite be up there with Diamonds, but this makes it more refractive than Ruby, Sapphire and Alexandrite – and significantly more refractive than gems such as Tsavorite Garnet, Spinel and Tanzanite. This refractivity, along with a clarity and shine like no other, make this a gem fit for a true connoisseur. No other orange gem even comes close in terms of its refraction, and therefore sparkle.
There is no Swahili word for Orange, but the Maasai, who inhabit this area (and fill it with colour via their traditional dress) use the word Tulelei to mean Orange. It’s not only their clothing that suggests the colour either, famous golden orange sunsets, the sunbaked landscape and now Tulelei all show the very best of this colour.
The Maasai culture takes colour seriously, and different colours represent different aspects of their culture. Orange is used to represent warmth, friendship and generosity – three qualities that could easily be reflected in this shining treasure.
The gem industry has long wanted and needed a bright, clear and sparkly orange gem to lead the field in an otherwise under-represented colour band. Whilst many have sought to fit the bill, they’ve often had no sparkle, no glow or a brownish mask suppressing the inner beauty, keeping it hidden. Often they’re not even transparent. Tulelei changes all this with its high refractive index and remarkable clarity, truly making it The Sparkliest Orange Gem In The World.
Just as Csarite is the name used for Colour-Change Diaspore from Anatolia in Turkey, Tulelei is the name for Ultra-Bright Spessartite Garnet from near Loliondo on the northern border of Tanzania.
The location of the mine is a guarded secret, and to stop the area being flooded with prospectors measures have been taken to keep it that way. Before serious mining began, mine owner Bruce Kong and his workers built a new school and a small community centre in the area. Moving forward, whilst Bruce builds a new classroom to expand and improve the school, The Colourful Life Foundation will build a toilet block, teach them how to create a kitchen garden and assist them in building a home for the teachers by purchasing Maasai beaded bracelets from them and returning them a profit from their sale.