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Julio Tanjeloff

Julio Tanjeloff, an Argentinian dynamo, was born in Buenos Aires on September 10, 1916, the son of Teresa (Brudner) and Simon Tanjeloff. He served as a lieutenant in the Army during the Paraguay-Bolivia War (1933-1934), then earned a law degree from the Universidad Nacional de Litoral in Santa Fe, Argentina in 1937, and married Anna Cuomo. They had two sons: Edgar and Jorge Simon.

Instead of practicing law Julio decided to go into the construction business in Buenos Aires, and made nearly $10 million, eventually owning several mines (including the Catamarca rhodochrosite mine) and nearly a million acres of ranch land. Beginning in 1946 he was President of the Corporacion Economic, S.A. When the Peron regime began to expropriated some of his properties he emmigrated to the U.S. with his family in 1961 and immediately began studying the mineral specimen market.

In 1963 Julio formed the Tanjeloff, Ltd. company and opened the spectacular Astro Gallery of Gems and Minerals in New York City, an operation which grew into a stunningly lavish 16,000-square-foot establishment that drew mineral collectors, gem collectors, interior decorators, architects and designers. He also founded the Inter-American Common Market Company, Ltd. in 1969. In 1970 he began publishing Mineral Digest to promote minerals and his business. Though Mineral Digest ran for only eight widely spaced issues it still ranks as the most extravagant mineral periodical of all time.

Around 1967, gem-grade blue zoisite was discovered in Tanzania, and Julio was apparently the first person to bring a crystal into the United States. In a famous dispute, he marketed it as "tanjeloffite" in his retail stores, while Tiffany & Company independently marketed it as "tanzanite." The latter name stuck.

By 1976 Julio had engineered an empire of over 20 Astro Gallery retail outlets in various department stores across the country, and also acquired other retail stores outright, including Georg Jensen boutiques, Cartier Wholesale Division, Mark Cross Ltd. Wholesale division, Kosta Boda art glass, Rosenthal Studio-Haus giftware shops, Klein's department store and Blum's department store. The Astro Galleries sold decorator minerals and gems, while the other stores he owned sold sterling silverware and table top china, with over 400 employees and $35 million in annual sales. He also operated Tanjeloff Ltd., for exploration, mining and distribution of mineral specimens and gems.

Julio Tanjeloff died in New York on May 24, 1988, of a sudden heart attack. His son Edgar Tanjeloff succeeded him as President, and was in turn succeeded by his grandson, Dennis Tanjeloff, in 1996.

TRINCHILLO, D. (2008) The Marc P. Weill Collection of Fine Minerals. Special supplement to the Mineralogical Record, 39.
ZARA, L. (1995) The saga of Mineral Digest. Mineralogical Record, 26 (4), 135-142.
ANONYMOUS (1974) Julio Tanjeloff. Who's Who in America.p. 3031.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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The Mineralogical Record - Julio Tanjeloff Julio Tanjeloff with his grandson, Dennis Tanjeloff.
The Mineralogical Record - Julio Tanjeloff Tanjeloff's Mineral Digest vol. 1 (1970) and 2.
The Mineralogical Record - Julio Tanjeloff Tanjeloff's Mineral Digest vol. 3 and 4.
The Mineralogical Record - Julio Tanjeloff Tanjeloff's Mineral Digest vol. 5 and 6.
The Mineralogical Record - Julio Tanjeloff Tanjeloff's Mineral Digest vol. 7 and 8 (the last one published, 1977).
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