Tourmalines are some of the more versatile and unique gemstones on the market, ranging from all sorts of colors and pricing! We are going to help you understand how to evaluate tourmalines, the different qualities and price points! Watch the video above if you are a visual learner, we also have it formatted as a podcast at the base of the page, enjoy!
The Basics of Tourmaline
So what colors do tourmalines come in? All of them! Tourmalines can pretty much be found in any color, from neon blues, greens, oranges, pinks, yellows, blacks and more. The unique quality of tourmaline is that they are often bi-colored and even tri-colored. This means that you can find more then one color within the same stone. Some-times they will be color zoned in certain areas within the gemstone, other times it can be depending on the angle your looking at it, the colors will vary in shades and hues. It makes for a very interesting color play then the standard uniform colors such as topaz or amethysts.
Prices and Identifying Tourmaline Qualities
Tourmalines can vary in prices drastically from 50$ a carat up to 10K a carat. The most important factor when evaluating a tourmaline is it's color (except when it's a common color). Certain colors such as the Paraiba tourmaline, which are an electric neon blue-green, sometimes violets, are very rare. Because of their scarcity the prices can go up to 10K$ a carat. In comparison you have Scorf tourmaline, a black shade, which is the most commonly found tourmaline and in abundance, this black tourmaline is not expensive at all. They carry similar prices to citrines, peridot and garnets and is often used in mourning jewelry.
When pricing rare colored tourmalines such as neon blues or violets gemologists actually place the color before the clarity when grading the gemstone. This is because these colors are so rare that even if they are included this will often be overlooked. For most tourmalines once you go to the 3-5 carat+ the prices will start to jump drastically.
Is Tourmaline a Good Engagement Ring option?
Yes of course! Tourmalines make for an excellent and unique engagement ring choice! They are also a 7-7.5 on 10 of the Mohs scale. This means that it will be a durable choice for everyday wear. It's also fun because most colors are less then diamond prices making it easier financially to hit higher carat weights still within reasonable price points!
Morganites are a very common choice for engagement rings, however a common problem for this gemstone is that it collects grease very easily. It is a gemstone that will need a more regular cleaning schedule. This is why we will often suggest sunset tourmaline. It is a tourmaline, that when chosen in a lighter shade resembles quite closely to morganite, however tourmaline is a gemstone that is less "sticky" and will require less cleaning. It is slightly more expensive but if your someone who likes low maintenance items we strongly suggest this choice!
If you are looking for a tourmaline engagement ring simply send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help with the gemstone sourcing and custom design!
How To Identify Fake Tourmalines
Tourmalines are not a stone that will generally be mimicked but it does still occur, especially for the more popular "watermelon tourmaline". One of the ways they replicate these stones is by cutting glass into the desired shape and covering it with what resembles a thin colored sheet of plastic. Essentially they plastic wrap the stone with different colors. You can easily spot this by using a loop, because often you can see specks of residue that is caught between the glass and the plastic, or even air bubbles. Also along the rim of the synthetic stone you will be able to see the crease of where the plastic sheet ends.
There are some other basics like checking the origin report. For example if it says your Paraiba tourmaline comes from Pakistan, it is a good indicator that it is a fake because we know that Paraiba comes from Brazil. Chrome tourmalines only come from Tanzania. Make sure the origin report makes sense.
In any case for larger price point gems we always suggest getting your gemstones evaluated by reputable sources such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). They are a non-profit organization that has rigorous and strict grading for gemstones and diamonds.
Tourmaline can often be heated or irradiated, to enhance their colors. These treatments aren't necessarily a bad thing, they're actually pretty standard procedures in the gem industry. This is a way to get the most beautiful colors out of gemstones, because in parallel gems that do not receive these treatments for the same quality in color could have a steep price increase.
Heat treatments are the most stable treatments for improving the color of a gemstone and even though they are treated the gemstones would still be considered natural.
Irradiation treatments are not as stable and if exposed to light or heat will begin to fade over time, making this a less desirable treatment between the two options. It can also erase the bi-colored properties of some shades of tourmaline such as rubellite, by making them opaque.
Tourmaline Crystal Formation & Cuts
The natural formation of tourmaline crystals are very interesting because they resemble almost as if they're composed of hundreds of strands of hair-like filaments glued together forming a cylinder. These crystals are formed in water rich environments. During the growth of the crystals they will absorb thee elements in their surrounding. For example if there is coper, the tourmaline will turn green!
Because of these elongated strands, gem cutters will often cut in favor of the direction of the crystal. This is why it is very common to find elongated cuts such as emeralds and ovals.
History of Tourmaline!
Tourmalines were originally found in the 1500's. Because of there most common colors, pink (rubellite) and green (chrome) they were mistaken for rubies and emeralds up until the 1800's. It was only discovered at a later date that they are their own species because an advancement in equipment.
In the 19th and early 20th century the main importers where actually China. Their empress loved the beautiful colors tourmaline had to offer and had them imported for many things such as jewels, sculptures, snuff bottles and more. If you've never heard of snuff bottles, they stem from the fact that during the Quin Dynasty, smoking tobacco was illegal, so everyone kept their tobacco in powdered form and inside of small jars called "snuff bottles". These small compartments were used by taking their for-fingers to bring the tobacco to their nose and inhale it. How cool is that!
If you are looking for a tourmaline gemstone you can view our catalogue here, or you can send us an email at email@example.com. Leave a brief message of what your looking for and your budget and we will be happy to source them for you!