Tourmaline comes in a wide variety of colors, more so than almost any other gemstone species. In fact many of the Tourmaline colors have inspired their own trade names.
Rubellite is a name for pink, red, purplish red, orangy red, or brownish red tourmaline, although some in the trade argue that the term shouldn’t apply to pink tourmaline. There is always a difference of opinion among gemologists and jewelers where a gemstone lies in the color category.
Indicolite is a very dark purplish blue, blue, or green blue.
Paraiba Tourmaline is an intense, purple blue, green or blue green and has a neon like brightness. It comes from Paraiba, Brazil. In this crystal, you can see the neon blue, gorgeous.
Chrome Tourmaline is an intense green and gets its color from vanadium, the same element that gives African and Brazilian emeralds their color.
Parti-colored Tourmaline displays more than one color, usually pink and green But other combinations are possible.
Watermelon Tourmaline is pink on the inside and green on the outside as is the watermelon. In some crystals, there may be black specks appearing as seeds. The crystals are cut in slices to show off this color arrangement. This is quite unique when seen in person.
Tourmaline also has cat’s- eye effect called chatoyancy. This comes from thin tube like inclusions but larger than other stones showing this same characteristic so the cat’s eye is not as sharp. It is of course cut in a cabochon shape, to show off the cat’s eye.
Tourmalines make up a group of closely related mineral species that share the same crystal structure but have different chemical and physical properties. They share the elements silicon, aluminum, and boron, but contain a complex mixture of other elements such as sodium, lithium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, chromium, vanadium, fluorine, and sometimes copper. Just like any other gemstone depending on the elements, this is what gives the gemstone its color.
Pegmatites are igneous rock that forms during the final stage of magma’s crystallization and this is where tourmaline crystals are found and can be as long as 3 feet and contain more than one type of Tourmaline. Pegmatites are rare and are rich in certain elements. These pegmatites occur in granite. Within the pegmatite are pockets which can contain a variety of different colored crystals.
Gemologists use a tourmaline’s properties and chemical composition to define its species. The major tourmaline species are elbaite, liddicoatite, dravite, uvite, and schorl.
Elbaites offer the widest range of gem-quality tourmaline colors. They can be green, blue, or yellow, pink to red, colorless, or zoned with a combination of colors.
Uvite is rich in calcium, magnesium, and aluminum. Dravite is rich in sodium, magnesium, and aluminum. Both form in limestone that’s been altered by heat and pressure, resulting in marble that contains accessory minerals like tourmaline.
Dravite and Uvite produce the most gem quality tourmalines. When rich in vanadium, chromium or both and in the right quantities can produce Tourmaline that is a very rich green and can rival Tsavorite Garnet, and even Emeralds. And if the coloring element is iron this produces a rich yellow Tourmaline, called Savannah.
Tourmaline’s colors have many different causes. It’s generally agreed that traces of iron, and possibly titanium, induce green and blue colors. Manganese produces reds and pinks, and possibly yellows. Some pink and yellow elbaites might owe their hues to color centers caused by radiation, which can be natural or laboratory-induced.
It’s easy to understand why people so easily confuse tourmaline with other gems: Very few gems match tourmaline’s dazzling range of colors. From rich reds to pastel pinks and peach colors, intense emerald greens to vivid yellows and deep blues, the breadth of this gem’s color range is unrivalled. Brazilian discoveries in the 1980s and 1990s heightened tourmaline’s appeal by bringing intense new hues to the marketplace. This is why centuries ago gemstones were called emeralds because they were green, or sapphires because they were blue, then in modern times and with the research done by gemologists gemstones received their proper name.
Tourmaline is also the birthstone for October, so October babies, pick out your favorite color.
Thank you GIA