Tourmaline Buying Guide
In recent years tourmaline has become one of the most popular of all colored gemstones. Buyers who are new to tourmaline are attracted by its huge choice of colors and its very good gemstone characteristics - it is reasonably hard, and durable enough for all kinds of jewelry. It is also a very affordable gemstone, particularly in larger sizes, since the price per carat for tourmaline doesn't increase dramatically like the prices of large sapphire and ruby gemstones.
Watermelon, Blue and Black Tourmaline Gemstones from GemSelect
However, there are some important differences between varieties of tourmaline, and some colors are rarer and thus more expensive. This short buying guide should help you to understand quality and price grades in today's tourmaline market.
At the high end of the market is the very rare Paraiba tourmaline. First discovered in Brazil in 1989, this neon blue-green material is colored by copper and manganese. The mines in Brazil were quickly worked out and prices for top specimens reached thousands of dollars per carat. The recent discovery of similar material in Africa brought more to the market.
Another rare tourmaline is the vivid green chrome tourmaline colored by chromium and vanadium. First found in Tanzania in the 1960s, it is in very limited supply and is usually found only in small sizes. With a color similar to tsavorite garnet, chrome tourmaline is highly sought after by collectors.
Green, Blue-Green and Pink Tourmaline Gemstones from GemSelect
Red tourmaline, often referred to in the trade as rubellite tourmaline, ranges in color from hot pink to deep red and purplish-red. Since it can often be found in large sizes, it is a popular alternative to ruby and red spinel. What is special about true rubellite is the intensity of the color.
Blue tourmaline, another rare tourmaline hue, is often known by the name indicolite. Found in colors ranging from gray-blue and vivid blue to blue-green, it can be one of the hardest tourmaline colors to find.
Tourmaline is one of the few gemstones where you can find a range of bi-color and tri-color specimens. These occur in all colors, but the most coveted color is the watermelon tourmaline, named for its distinctive pink-red and green bands. Top specimens are highly regarded by collectors.
It is fair to say that the most popular tourmaline colors are pink and green. The pink stones are found in every shade from the softest pink to intense hot pink. Green tourmaline is known for its excellent clarity and vast color range, from blue-green and forest-green to mint-green. Green tourmaline can often be found in very large sizes at affordable prices.