Zoisite is named after the Slovene scientist Baron Sigmund Zois von Edelstein. He was the first to realize that this mineral, first discovered in the Saualpe Mountains, a rolling mountain range in the Alps, could be fashioned into gemstones and other forms.
Zoisite is often carved, used for jewelry, usually in relatively large pieces, also spheres, eggs, hearts, pyramides, and even palm stones. The green and pink zoisites have been used as jade substitutes. Tanzanite, a form of zoisite, is widely used as a gemstone.
At least until after the September 11, 2001 attacks when a rumor was circulated throughout the gemstone marketplace that sales of tanzanite had helped fund Osam bin Laden and the Al-Quaeda network.
As a result, several jewelers, especially in the United States, imposed a boycott on further imports of the gem, and some of them even removed tanzanite-bearing jewelry from their active inventories. Eventually the U.S. State Department declared that there was no evidence to support the rumor so most jewelers lifted the boycott.