Gemstones 101: 02 - Tourmaline

Educational, Gemstones 101Andrea Li4 Comments
 Image Credit Andrea Li

Image Credit Andrea Li

A Colorful Favorite

Tourmaline is a highly favored gemstone amongst jewelry designers. It comes in a variety of rich colors - sometimes several encapsulated into a single stone. With jewelry trends changing at the seasonal whims of major fashion houses and pantone color predictions, it can be adapted easily into jewelry that is always of the moment. 

First imported by the Dutch from Sri Lanka in 1703, these beauties have become a mainstay in modern jewelry design. Tourmalines were given the name turamali meaning mixed colors. Perhaps the stones greatest appeal lies in the variety of colors it comes in. Ranging from pastels, intense neons, unique bi- and tri-colors. With the stone being more widely used by designers and clients who wish to wear them, the demand for these stones have nearly tripled over the last few years. The scarcity from the market has made them more valuable than ever before. 

Although the crystal structure is the same for all tourmalines, it is the impurities present that dictate what color each individual stone is. Here some examples below of different types of tourmalines and the color associated with them. 


Indicolite Tourmalines

Indicolite includes tourmalines in shades of blue. Any shades that range from the blue of a sapphire to a bright blue-green turquoise. The above image is an indicolite tourmaline embedded in crystal quartz. 


Rubelite Tourmalines

Rubellite is probably the most widely used tourmaline by jewelry designers and major jewelry houses. The name Rubellite simply means 'red'. The colors from this tourmaline family run anywhere from intense hot pink, to a red color with hues of violet of blues. The main deposits of the mineral are in Tanzania and Nigeria. 


Verdelite Tourmalines

Think Emerald City with the tourmaline family called Verdelite. Like the Emerald City there is nothing common about the green hue of this group. Emerald green, bright leaf green, and chrome green are sought out and rare. Therefore they are the expensive to procure for both jewelry designers and avid jewelry collectors.


Paraiba Tourmalines

The crown jewel of all tourmaline families is the Paraiba. First discovered and mined in Jose de Batalina the Brazilian state of Paraiba in the 1980's. Their vibrant colors of greens and turquoise blues coined them the term 'neon tourmalines'. A term they are commonly referenced as. Due to their intense colors it has been speculated that the stones are heat treated but that has never been confirmed. With the huge demand and the original mine being exhausted there is a super limited quantity available on the open market. Making these lively stones super spendy for anyone wishing to wear one or work with one. 


Bi - And Tricolor Tourmalines

The infamous 'watermelon' tourmaline comes from this grouping. The crystal has a pink center with a green rim. Cutting these juicy beauties by slicing them gives them the appearance of a watermelon slice. This cut has become extremely popular among both designers and clients who crave them. The unique nature of designs using this cut has elevated creativity in many modern jewelry designs. 


Dravite Tourmalines

Dravite tourmaline color range in yellow-brown to orange-brown hues. It has strong dichroic properties causing it show two different colors depending on what angle you view the stone. Much like a cat's eye. The effect can cause the stone to appear metallic. 


Schorl Tourmalines

Schorl, or black tourmaline was widely used in Victorian England mourning jewelry. No doubt for its black color but also the stone is more durable than jet. Many people believe it helps one become grounded, dissolving anxiety and doubt.