January 15, 2002
Zale Drops Tanzanite
Zale Corp., Irving, TX, is temporarily discontinuing the purchase and the sale of tanzanite, affecting sales of tanzanite in the company's more than 2,300 stores. Zale's general counsel, Susan Lanigan, cites uncertainty over the possibility the gemstone may have been used to help finance al Qaeda cells in Eastern Africa. Two other American retailers, QVC and Tiffany & Co. both suspended tanzanite sales before Christmas.
Zale says the corporation "has taken the step out of extreme caution, not because we believe there is a connection or have any proof to support these allegations ... The most prudent course of action is to stop dealing in the product completely until the situation is more clearly defined. If you have purchased any tanzanite products from us in the past and would like to return it, please feel free to do so at any time."
Some tanzanite dealers say they are disappointed with Zale's decision, particularly because there is scant evidence to prove any commercial links between tanzanite and al Qaeda. National Security Council investigators are probing the allegations, and say they've uncovered no credible links between the gemstone and al Qaeda thus far. Independent experts on East Africa studying Tanzanias mining operations also say they have not discovered any links between tanzanite and terrorists. The government of Tanzania as well as miners and dealers associations in Tanzania consistently and strenuously denied any such linkage.
Some published reports in the consumer press attempted to establish a commercial link between al Qaeda terrorist cells working in Kenya and Tanzania and various gems including tanzanite.
by Robert Weldon, G.G.