Tourmaline (TOUR-ma-leen) is a large family of Gemstones with more than 100 hues available. Its name comes from the Sinhalese turmali, meaning mixed Gemstones due to the tendency to confuse
Tourmalines with other Gems.
Tourmaline from Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) was first introduced to the Europeans in the late 1600's or early 1700's by Dutch traders. Our source for Tourmaline is Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), Africa, and Brazil, all known for producing the finest variety of Tourmaline.
Tourmaline crystals are often cracked and flawed, especially in the Red, Pink and Bi-colors. Clean stones of 10 Carats or more in these colors command a premium price. The Green and Blue colors are generally very clean. Tourmaline is sensitive to strong heat, as this may alter the color, and sudden temperature changes may cause fracturing, it may be prudent to ask a Jeweler to remove the stone before applying his torch. Tourmaline is not usually attacked by chemicals.
Green Tourmaline is the most recognized of the Tourmaline colors. Green Tourmalines are typically eye clean stones. Most are cut in the rectangular shapes. Shades range from a pastel yellowish Green to a vibrant Green to dark Green.
Chrome Tourmaline is a rare variety of fine intense Green Tourmaline that is found only in the Eastern African countries of Kenya, Zambia, Namibia and Tanzania. The finest Chromes rival the top color of Emerald and Tsavorite Garnet and offers a more durable stone for jewelry. Chrome Tourmaline's vivid Green color is determined by the presence of Chromium or Vanadium oxides. Chrome Tourmaline was first mined in Tanzania in the 1960's. One of the largest crystal chambers was uncovered by accident in Namibia when an explosives expert shot off excess dynamite. Gem quality Chromes are extremely difficult to locate. Stones over 3 Carats are considered very rare in this Gem. All of our stones are well faceted and eye clean. A very rare Gem with a great investment potential!
Indicolite, also called Indigolite, is the proper name for Blue Tourmaline. One of the finest Indicolite colors are in the Violetish to Greenish Blue color range. Recently another Indicolite find in the Mulungu mine, and Alto dos Quintos mine, in Rio Grande do Norte State, Brazil, have produced limited quantities of various shades of turquoise blue-green material, similar to the color of Paraiba (below), but not as vivid a color due to a lower copper content. These turquoise blue-green colors demand a higher premium than some of the Blue Indicolite, but should not as high as Paraiba, which only comes from the Paraiba mine. Our source for fine Indicolite Tourmaline is Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), Brazil, and Africa, all known for producing the finest varieties of Tourmaline. Other sources for Indicolite are Madagascar, California and Maine. Indicolite is typically a clean Gemstone, seldom with eye visible inclusions and range in shades of medium light to medium dark Blue. Indicolite Tourmaline is a highly valued Collectors Gemstone.
Paraiba Tourmaline (cuprian elbaite) is another of the world's most unusual Gemstones. At first it was called "Electric" then "NEON." This new gemstone was discovered in Brazil in 1989. It's brilliant blue and green are more vivid than any ever seen before. The term "NEON" accurately describes the tone of color. It is so vivid it will shock you with its beauty. You can see this stone from across the room! These vivid turquoises, electric blues, rich twilight blues, and neon greens haven't been seen with any consistency in any other gemstone variety. Paraiba-type tourmalines belong to the elbaite species, but contain manganese (Mn) and copper (Cu) with a Cu content of up to 2.30 wt% CuO, as well as bismuth (Bi). From the beginning, the trade labeled these cuprian elbaite tourmalines as "Paraiba"
(Fritsch et al., 1990). The name quickly caught on and is now mentioned as a valid trade name in the CIBJO Rules. Copper was quickly labeled as the principle cause of the rich color. Meanwhile, more locations of copper-containing tourmalines were discovered. The first discovery was in Brazil's Rio Grande Do Norte state, just north of Para?ba state. This cuprian elbaite find was described as "para?ba tourmaline." In 2001, another copper-bearing tourmaline locality was discovered in Nigeria (Smith et al., 2001). The Nigerian gemstones are generally not as vivid as those from Brazil. Chemically, the Nigerian material can also be easily distinguished by its lead content, in addition to copper and manganese. But according to the CIBJO rules, it fits the "Para?ba" definition, and they have been sold under that name. In 2005, cuprian elbaite (Para?ba) from Mozambique entered the market (Abduriyim & Kitawaki, 2005). Some of this material is much closer in color to the original Brazilian Para?ba tourmaline, and often not distinguishable by the naked eye. The chemical composition is much more complex with varying amounts and large ranges of Mn, Cu, lead (Pb), and Bi. A large number of these tourmalines do not contain any Pb, and may easily overlap with properties of the Brazilian copper-bearing tourmalines. At the international Gemstone Industry Laboratory Conference (GILC) in Tucson in February 2006, the Conference suggested that the term "Paraiba Tourmaline" be adapted as a variety name, rather than a geographic origin. If origin was requested, laboratories could then prepare an origin report (where possible). Looking at the chemical data, the differences are sometimes so small and properties overlapping that it may not be possible to give an origin at all for the occasional stone. Looking at the colors, the best samples from Nigeria or Mozambique had colors that were as vivid as the ones from Brazil. These challenges have kept the laboratories of the international Laboratory Manual Harmonization Committee (LMHC) busy for several months before a consensus was finally reached in April. As a result, gemstone identification reports will now call all copper containing (cuprian) elbaite (tourmaline) "Paraiba Tourmaline," regardless of it's origin, and this is consistent with current trade practice. Production is very sporadic in all locations, and does not keep up with the strong market demand. These mine shafts are hand-excavated tunnels up to 60 meters deep and the Paraiba Tourmaline is found only in very thin veins. So even with the new find, this means the supply will always be limited and Paraiba always be very rare and expensive. Retail prices can exceed $10,000 to $15,000 per carat, but this is for super fine 2 carat specimens, and over $20,000 per carat for the super fine 3 to 4 carat specimens, but even that is very little when you realize how rare these gemstones are. Diamonds are quite common in comparison. The prices for Paraibas are not the standard by which other Tourmalines can be measured. The price per carat reflects the size, clarity, color and the intensity of the particular shade. Neon Paraiba Tourmaline is an attractive, highly desirable Gemstone which should be purchased when you can. The most desired colors have been the shades of clear bright greenish Blue or bluish Green; pure Green; or the medium intense Blue. Intense Purple colors are extremely rare, and sought after by collectors worldwide. Naturally variations of tones create exciting "Neons." Stones are usually transparent with minimal inclusions. This super rare Gemstone is a definite winner!
Pink Tourmaline has become a favorite for mounting because it is available in so many shades, ranging from pure light Pink to intense "HOT" Pink to orangy-Pink and Fuchsia Pink. Gemologists think that natural irradiation produces the Pink, Red and Violet colors in Tourmaline. To enhance the color to get the very HOT Pinks, you can expect that it was probably Cobalt treated. The darker reddish colors tend to have more natural inclusions than the other Tourmaline colors because they are formed near the center of the crystal pocket and receive more stress and pressure during formation.
Rubellite is the deepest shades of Red that appear to be a Ruby-like RED. Like all Tourmaline, it has strong pleochroism. Eye clean Rubellite is one of the most expensive in Tourmaline since most Rubellite has visible inclusions. Clean Rubellite is very rare, so if you see a super clean stone it's probably a Pink Tourmaline or a Rhodolite Garnet. Rubellite's intense RED color makes it a beautiful Gem for mounting. Colors range in Rubellite from Fuchsia to maroon Red to Red. The price of Rubellite goes up dramatically as the size increases or the Red deepens in intensity. There have been no new stocks of clean Rubellite Tourmaline on the market for several years. Expect it to continue to move upward in price.
Green, Chrome, and Indicolite Tourmaline is not treated. Fine Gem Quality Paraiba Tourmaline is never treated, however, there are heated gems on the market selling for a fraction of the cost of fine quality natural Paraiba. It would be prudent to purchase only gems that have been certified by a qualified independent gemologist and identified as natural non-enhanced Paraiba. Heated Paraiba gems on the market start out as poor color stones that are heated to enhance the color, and the neon effect is lost during the heating process, so they never look as good as the natural non-enhanced Paraiba gems. These lower quality heated gems will never be accepted as true collector specimens. Deep Pink to Red Tourmaline in vivid colors are typically Heat or Cobalt Irradiation treated to enhance and stabilize the color. The typical treatment process is a permanent process that does not adversely affect the performance and durability of the gemstone, so there's no need to worry when you see this enhancement disclosed.
CARE - Tourmaline is a very good choice for jewelry but it should be stored in a separate compartment or in a jewelry bag to
prevent scratching by harder Gemstones. Jewelry featuring Tourmaline is risky if cleaned in an ultrasonic or steam cleaner. We recommend Ionic Cleaners and/or warm, soapy water and a soft brush as the best way to clean Tourmaline jewelry.