Fall has officially begun which brings crisp morning air, the reddening of leaves, and the month of tourmaline. Parallel to the wide range of fall colors, tourmaline itself has one of the widest ranges of color expression among all gems.
Octobers birthstones include tourmaline and opal. Tourmaline also holds another title as the eighth-anniversary gem.
Pink tourmaline in particular is seen as a celebration of life and those who have been affected by breast cancer. This gem is a symbol of the importance of the feminine spirit and a means of honoring those we love.
Since I’ve chosen to feature tourmaline this week, at the bottom of this blog are four very fine, tourmalines for you to enjoy.
If you would just like to proceed to our website and see a few examples of what we have in stock, then simply follow the link below.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of tourmaline there’s a fascinating story of the gem.
It starts with China’s Empress Dowager, Cixi, and it ends with California’s Pala tourmaline boom. Cixi had a passion for pink tourmaline which transformed the industry in San Diego California in the early 1900s.
During this time in Chinese history the nation was facing many complicated problems. For instance, a series of natural disasters, destabilizing influences from abroad, rampant nationalism, and the infamous Boxer Rebellion. The Boxer Rebellion, which was quelled by a multinational incursion on Chinese land would eventually spell the end for the Qing Dynasty. But, it wasn’t before Empress Cixi’s many attempts to return her nation back to familiar territory.
This brings us to her obsession with pink tourmaline. With hopes of a more modern rebranding of her empire, she sought to emulate Queen Victoria’s style more than any traditional Chinese work of art. Thus began her ambition of collecting as many pink tourmalines as she could. This resulted in the purchase of over 120 tons of gem-grade tourmaline. This was all mined between 1902 to 1910 in Mesa Grande.
She was also seen taking photographs displaying her wealth of tourmaline. However, as history goes it wasn’t long after, in 1911, that the Qing dynasty was overthrown.
Tourmaline displays all colors, however, red, green, blue, and pink make up most of the material.
These colors have a variety of differing causes. In large part, this is because, tourmaline is technically not one mineral, but a combination of minerals which share many chemical and physical properties.
Within tourmaline, manganese is considered to produce pinks and red, and perhaps yellows as well. Radiation may also be the cause behind much of the pink and yellow hues–radiation might also be lab-induced treatment. Finally, greens and blues may arise from the presence of iron and titanium.
Much of a tourmalines value is determined by its color and intensity. Which can range from brilliant and vibrant to pale or dark.
As I mentioned above tourmaline is not technically a single mineral, and thus inclusions may be more common in certain types of tourmaline than others. For instance, blue and green tourmaline have less visible inclusions than the intense pink, and rubellite red tourmaline.
Turning a rough tourmaline into a gorgeous piece requires a distinct approach.
This is because the length of tourmaline crystals tend to be longer and they are often thinner than most other gems. Here is a quick video clip of one of our Nigerian tourmalines as it progresses from rough gem to finished work of art.
As mentioned above there is a variety of different tourmaline, however, there are four of particular interest.
First, there is Schorl. It is the most common form of tourmaline, it’s known for its black lustrous color.
Second, Liddicoatite is an uncommon form that is highly lustrous with a wide range of colors and multicolored patterns.
Third, there is dravite, also known as brown tourmaline, which has brown, orange, and yellow colors.
This brings us to the fourth, called elbaite, which is the most colorful mineral among all tourmaline.
With 30 different minerals in the tourmaline family, elbaite makes up most of all the gemstones. Other names for sub-species of elbaite are indicolite (blue), rubellite (red-pink), Paraiba (greenish-blue, and finally watermelon (green surrounding pink).
The specimen in this image is an elbaite named “candelabra”. This unique shape and color pattern was formed as 3 elbaite crystals grew on a quartz base, the blue top on the pink base of the elbaite crystals is due to the growth solution being changed from primarily manganese to primarily iron.
This week I’m featuring four tourmalines of different colors. I have selected two breathtaking ovals, a rectangle-step-cut, and a trillion cut.
I selected these because of their incredible beauty and sparkle.
Scroll down. Have a look at what I’ve selected for you.
If one of the above doesn’t quite fit, but strikes your imagination, then follow the link with and go on your own gem hunt through the online inventory.