Tourmaline is a very special family of gemstones: it is one of the only gemstones in the world that occurs naturally in every color, sometimes even containing two colors in one stone. Ancient Egyptians believed that the tourmaline passed through a rainbow on its way up through earth, and thus was blessed with all the colors.
Tourmaline also has an unusual property of attracting dust – if you rub a crystal of tourmaline on a surface and look at it, you will notice it has become covered in fine dust. Because of this, low grade (not gem) tourmaline is used in vacuum cleaners. It also means that when you wear it, you will want to clean it often to see it’s best sparkle (but not with any ultrasonic or steam cleaner!).
Tourmalines are found primarily in Brazil, Afghanistan and Eastern Africa.
Certain kinds of tourmaline are very rare and expensive, such as the Paraiba tourmaline (originally found in Brazil), while others are common and affordable.
The Family of tourmalines:
Rubelites are the tourmalines that come in very saturated colors of hot pink, magenta and red. Fine rubelites are among the most prized tourmalines.
Pinks that are too pale to be rubelite are simply called pink tourmalines.
Orange tourmaline is very unusual and rare, but it does exist. The most common hues tend toward peach. Orange tourmaline gemstones will usually have overtones of either yellow, pink or brown.
Pure, saturated yellow tourmaline is very rare. It is sometimes called “Canary tourmaline.” More common hues are pale yellow and greenish yellow.
Green tourmaline is one of the most common colors for this gemstone. The most typical color is a dark, forest green. Though green tourmalines are reletavily inexpensive, when the green is caused by chrome, the color becomes a rich emerald green and is quite valuable.
Paraiba tourmalines are named after the region of Brazil where they are found and mined. They are famous and extremely valuable for their electric hues of teal, aqua and blue. These are some of the most valuable stones in the world today.
These are the tourmaline gemstones that are a pure, traditional blue. They tend to be a cool, greenish blue and are more often dark than pale.
A purely purple tourmaline is pretty much unheard of. Rubelites can have lilac shades, but until recently truly purple was not one of the colors available in tourmaline. A small and rare deposit was found a few years ago in Mozambique. Many of these stones are heat treated to turn them electric teal and sell as “Paraiba.” They are mostly stones for collectors and connisseurs.
This is one of the most common colors of tourmaline. Very large specimen pieces (2″ -3″) are commonly available. However, it is rarely transparent and is not often used as a gem.
Colorless or “white” tourmaline is also available. It is rare to find them, but they are not too expensive. Since the most prized feature of tourmalines is their rich colors, the colorless variety is really only popular with collectors.
One of the special characteristics of tourmaline is its wide color range. Another is its pleochroism. These two characteristics make it possible for tourmaline gemstones to contain two (or even 3) colors in one single gemstone.
Bi-color tourmalines in which one color is green and the other is pink or red are called “watermelon tourmalines”. These are very popular and revered by gemstone and jewelry connisseurs. They are used both faceted and scliced.
|Lowest Value: This tourmaline cabochon has very poor clarity and very dull, dark color. Its one redeeming feature is its large size. (over 7 carats)||Low Value: These beads have very nice, strong attractive colors. However, their poor clarity and small size detract from their value considerably.||Medium Value: This peice of tourmaline is very clear, well cut and with a lovely intense color. It is not exceptionally valuable because green is a very common color of tourmaline and is therefore, not very high priced.||High Value: This tourmaline is perfectly clear, well cut and has a bright intense beautiful pink color. This color of tourmaline is quite rare.|