Gemstone Focus: Tourmaline

Tourmalines are a beautiful group of gemstones found in a wonderful assortment of colours. The word means “stone with many colours” in the Sinhalese language. They are associated with creativity and artistic expression and they have often, historically, been mistaken for other gemstones. In fact, one of the Russian Crown jewels once thought to be a ruby is in fact a red rubellite tourmaline. And the conquistadors in South American mistook green tourmaline for emerald.

The different colours of tourmaline are believed to have their own healing properties. Black tourmaline is believed to protect the wearer and give a sense of self-confidence. Pink tourmaline embodies love and is associated with compassion and gentleness. Green tourmaline promotes courage, strength and stamina.

Tourmaline is also the new kid on the block as far as birthstones go and has become the alternate birthstone to Opal for the month of October. It is also the gemstone of the 8th wedding anniversary and it is the zodiac birthstone of the sign Libra

Facts, Value and Care:

Tourmalines form in pegmatites – an igneous rock that forms from magma (lava). Depending on the minerals present, the tourmaline can take on many colours such as pink, green, blue, yellow, black, watermelon and others. Brazil is a major producer of the gemstone however other major sources include  Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique and the US.

The most common tourmalines are the pink and green (sometimes called verdilites) and black but blue tourmalines (indicolites)/ paraiba (neon blue) as well as the deep pink to red rubellite and the rather fun pink and green watermelon tourmalines that resemble slices of the fruit are the most expensive of the tourmaline family.

Most tourmalines undergo heat and radiation treatment to enhance colour and this treatment is widely accepted and very stable.

The value of tourmaline varies considerably but usually Rubellite with its rich raspberry pink hues and Paraiba with its electric blue colour will be the most expensive and can sell for a much as $15,000 per carat. Fine quality pink and green gemstones with little or no inclusions will be between $500-1500 per carat. But you can find good quality gemstones with some inclusions for as little as $30 per carat. So there is a wide range of pricing depending on what you are looking for.

Tourmalines are quite hard gemstones resting at 7-7.5 on the Mohs scale. Which means they are very good for daily wear and will hold up well in rings and other pieces of jewellery. If you are looking for a unique engagement ring, tourmalines are a lovely and affordable alternative to diamond. And some people like to use bi-colour toumalines to symbolise two souls in one.

It is best to clean them with warm soapy water and avoid using ultrasonic cleaners as many tourmalines have inclusions which could shatter in mechanical cleaners.

So there you have it a quick and dirty guide to the beautiful tourmaline gemstone! If you have any questions, just drop me a note below!

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