In our recent post on Rubellite there were some follow up questions about the color of Rubellite. First of all different countries seem to have different understandings on the subject. The round stone pictured in this post may help us towards clarity. In almost any country other than the USA this stone, despite being pink, would be called Rubellite. There are country-specific perceptions regarding desirable color in gems and the names attached to them as well. Why some people would name this very pink gem a Rubellite is due to the type of tourmaline crystal that would produce this stone. Rubellite crystals tend to look different from other types of tourmaline crystals. In addition to a lighter color gem, as in this picture, a Rubellite mine will also produce darker Rubellite crystals–when a mine happens to be producing. A pink Rubellite will generally be a more pure pink than other pink tourmaline gems. Almost all other types of pink tourmaline will have at least ever so slight to significant brownish overtones and have the possibility of being very clean to flawless. So it’s a choice of color vs. clarity. So far color has won—Rubellite has always been more expensive than pink Tourmaline.
As we mentioned in the last post the darker color of Rubellite as compared with Emerald tends to obscure the inclusions so that many Rubellite gems do really show a lot of inclusions to the naked eye. As you can see in this post’s photo the lighter color does not cover the inclusions and they are quite readily visible.
Writing just recently about emerald it made me think about Rubellite. Rubellite just like Emerald is considered to be a Type 3 gemstone. Type 3 gemstones are known for their having eye visible inclusions. The fact of Rubellite and Emerald is this: if a person wants the beautiful color of these 2 gemstones they have to put up with the inclusions. We think it is worth it!!! One of the differences between Rubellite and Emerald is that many Rubellite gemstones are dark enough that the inclusions are not readily seen. What is seen is the amazing red color and some nice reflectivity from the bottom facets—beauty, all beauty.
Some people might wonder why I did not use the term Rubellite Tourmaline. That is due to the fact that Rubellite is a color of tourmaline. “Rubellite Tourmaline” is a redundant term. In any case Rubellite is a favorite gem of mine. Rubellite was my first important color in tourmaline. Early on in my career I was able to cut some Rubellite from one of the tourmaline mines in Southern California shortly after a nice pocket of it was found. This coincided with my entry into the gem business. This was in the early 70’s. Much of this material was heavily flawed as is much of the Rubellite ever found in the world. This is true of Rubellite and certain colors of Pink tourmaline.
I was lucky enough to participate in most of the big Rubellite finds throughout the world, one way or another, since the early 70’s. Southern California, Newry Maine, Jonas Limas (Minas Gerais, Brazil, late 70’s), Goais Brazil (early 80’s), Afghanistan (early 80’s), Nigeria (2000-2001), Mozambique 2010, and Undisclosed find happening right now. While each of these finds was Rubellite, each of them was a slightly different color. California material was quite pink, Jonas Limas was a little purple, Goais Brazil was very red but a little too dark in all but a few gems, Afghanistan was a little light and a little pink, Nigeria was perhaps the biggest quantity and best color overall—quite red, Mozambique was a little purple and Undisclosed is quite nice.
Back in 1987 when we were all getting excited about the Nova Era alexandrite find in Brazil, there was a new find of tourmaline in Paraíba, Brazil.
Paraíba is in what Brazilians call the Nordeste (Northeast). Looking at a map of South America Paraíba is a small Brazilian state that sticks out about as far East as any part of the continent. The Nordeste is a generally dry area (they grow cotton in the Nordeste [does this remind anyone of Arizona and cotton]). Apparently the Nordeste is in the rain shadow of South America. If you also look at the shape of South America and Africa you can see that Paraíba fits nicely into the area of Africa now known as Nigeria.
October brings us the dazzling colors of fall… burning oranges, vivid reds, blue greens and golden yellows—all colors that amaze and delight us. So it is with the birthstones for October, Tourmaline and Opal. Lucky you, October baby… you have your choice of both! This blog post will focus on Tourmaline.
With its many arrays of color, upwards of over 100 easily discernible colors, Tourmaline has fast become quite a favorite gem. It mirrors falls colors and then some with its’ Orange Tourmaline from Africa, Blue Green Tourmaline from Brazil and Rubellite Red Tourmaline from Nigeria and Brazil. Tourmaline even blends colors within a crystal creating what we call watermelon tourmaline because of its red and green combination. Party color tourmalines are just that…a happy party of subtle variations of color! Selecting just one color that is your favorite will be quite the challenge.
It is interesting that both opal and tourmaline are associated with many colors. In the instance of opal there are many colors within one stone. In the instance of tourmaline there are many stones—each with its own color. Of course, to complicate matters, there are tourmaline gems with multiple colors—lots and lots of colors—all within one stone, just presented differently to the eye than opal.
No wonder the most often-used nickname for tourmaline is The Rainbow Gem. Tourmaline comes in so many colors and so many shades of each color that it is a favorite of collectors. Many serious gem collectors have separate tourmaline collections within their overall collection.