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Tourmaline – The Birthstone for October
Gem News October 2006, contributed by
Alan Sklut of Diamond Empress

According to an ancient Egyptian legend this is the result of the fact that on the long way from the Earth’s heart up towards the sun, Tourmaline traveled along a rainbow. And on its way it collected all the colors of the rainbow. However, the name "Tourmaline” has been derived from the Singhalese expression "tura mali”, which translates as "stone of mixed colors.” The very name already refers to the unique spectrum of colors displayed by this gemstone, which is second to none in the realm of precious stones and is sometimes referred to as the “rainbow gemstone”.

No tourmaline exactly resembles another one; thus, this gemstone shows many faces and is thus excellently suited to match all moods and tempers. Tourmaline is supposed to be an especially powerful influence on love and friendship, lending them permanence and stability.

Tourmalines are mixed crystals of complex aluminum-borosilicate varying in their composition. The slightest changes in composition will result in completely different colors. In fact, crystals showing one color only are quite rare; generally one and the same crystal displays several shades and colors. Tourmaline also shows a remarkable characteristic called dichroism. Depending on the angle of view, the color will be different or at least show different intensity. This gemstone is excellently suited for wearing and is uncomplicated to care for.

Tourmalines have many varietal color names with the most common being Rubellite for pinkish-red to red, Indicolite for blue, Watermellon for a pink heart and green border gem that you typically see in crystal slices. They also occur in bi-color (or parti-color) gems where there will be a distinct color division in the faceted gem. I have seen faceted gems display as many as eight color tones and parti-colored gems with five color zones. In the world of gemstones, tourmalines are typically moderately priced from a very modest $60 per carat or less for some of the slab type crystals or small more common colors to the $1000 per carat area for very fine Indicolite or Rubellite material. However, there is one spectacular exception.

Pariaba is a variety of tourmaline first discovered in the state of Pariaba, Brazil in 1989 and the world saw for the first time gem colors that had an electric neon intensity of turquoise blues and greens. Copper was the element that gave these tourmalines such an exciting look and since there was only one location and a small finite supply of this material. Prices took off fast to where the going wholesale price of top gem 5 carat and above were in the $10,000 to $14,000 per carat range in a few years.

In 2001 more copper bearing tourmaline was discovered in Nigeria. Although not as intense as the Brazilian gems, these beauties were being offered at a much more reasonable price range. In the past year, new material is being brought to market from Madagascar. The colors can be as intense as the Brazilian gems but there are also more natural color tones now available, all with great depth and intensity of color due to being copper bearing crystals.

Much discussion has been generated within the gem trade whether the new material should be called Pariaba because of its original association for a distinct locale. It has finally been agreed that the term Pariaba is associated and recognized for its distinct color qualities and that the crystals are copper bearing. The terminology is now in line with many other gem varieties with similar qualities although they come from different sources. Professional gem labs, at this juncture, cannot determine this gem’s origin unless they know where the rough crystal was mined.

While we believe there will be some overall lowering of prices for the now expanded supply of Pariaba tourmaline, fine material is still very rare and future supplies are likely to dwindle from this time on. The original mine in Brazil now produces only a smidgeon of new material, and for all practical purposes is mined out.

Diamond Empress™ has direct access to the new Madagascar material which has yet to be offered in general to the trade. We have an extensive collection of tourmaline in all the popular colors and some rare ones. In, fact some of the more unusual colors are the least expensive.

Depend on Diamond Empress™ as your gem and jewelry design expert. We provide the best guidance in buying fine gems, diamonds and creating jewelry that celebrates today’s special moments with heirlooms to treasure for a lifetime.

Contact Alan Sklut for any gem or jewelry inquiry at:
302-832-3285 or toll free 877-746-0757
E-mail: Jewelry@DiamondEmpress.com

| Alan Sklut|

 

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