May 22, 2021
6 min read

T for Tourmaline

T for Tourmaline
T for Tourmaline

Gorgeous gemstone of the widest range of colors. It will meet high expectations even of the most sophisticated gemlovers.


Tourmaline exists in a magnificent color ranges: from rich reds to pastel pinks and peach colors, deep emerald greens to vivid yellows and intense blues. Many Tourmaline color varieties have their own names, for example: 

Rubellite is a name for pink, red, purplish red, orangy red, or brownish red tourmaline. 

Indicolite is dark violet blue, blue, or greenish blue tourmaline. 

Verdelite is a name for green variety of tourmaline.

Paraíba is an intense violet blue, greenish blue, or blue tourmaline from the state of Paraíba, Brazil. 

Watermelon tourmaline is pink in the center and green around the outside. Crystals of this material are typically cut in slices to display this special arrangement.

T for Tourmaline
Louis Vuitton rings with Indicolite Tourmaline

Some tourmalines demonstrate a chatoyancy – so-called cat’s-eye effect. Stones with a cat’s-eye effect are most often of green, blue or pink colors. These gemstones are cut as cabochons to bring out this amazing feature.

Paraiba tourmaline

Paraiba Tourmaline is one of the most desired gemstones in the world. 

Discovered in 1989 by Heitor Dimas Barbosa, it immediately drove the world crazy. Its intense blue shade, that reminds of beautiful tropical seas or clear summer skies, caught the world attention.

Normally, iron, manganese, chrome and vanadium are the elements that create the tourmaline’s beautiful color. The Paraiba Tourmaline is different though. It owes its splendid color to copper, an element which had never been detected in a this stone before. 

At the first auction Paraiba Tourmaline was put up for, the price per carat raised from several hundred to tens of thousands of dollars in a matter of a few hours! This extraordinary gemstone is still incredibly popular. Because of its beauty and scarcity, jewel items featuring it are almost impossible to buy from a jewelry store, and a ring with Paraiba Tourmaline may cost up to several million US dollars.

T for Tourmaline
Bvlgari Paraiba Tourmaline necklace

Mineral: tourmaline
Color: all
Mosh Hardness: 7-7,5
Origin: Brazil, the US, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Madagascar
Superpower: stimulates artistic inspiration and intuition
Birthstone: October
Anniversary: 8th wedding anniversary


One day, in the 1500s, a Spanish conquistador washed the dirt off a green crystal and confused this tourmaline with an emerald. It wasn’t until the 1800s that scientists recognized Tourmaline as a distinct mineral species. 

However, this confusion is reflected even in its name, which comes from «toramali», meaning “mixed gems” in the language of Sri Lanka. 

According to the ancient Egyptian legend, Tourmaline broke through a rainbow while pushing its way up through the earth – and hence its mesmerising color. 

For decades, China was the biggest market for tourmalines. Many pink and red stones from California were shipped to China because the Chinese Dowager Empress Tz’u Hsi was truly fond of their color! There, craftsmen carved the tourmaline into snuff bottles and other pieces to be set in jewelry. 

Fun fact: Tourmaline can generate electrical current, especially when heated or rubbed. That’s why the Dutch knew this gem as the “aschentrekker” or ash-puller, and pipe-smokers of the day used heated tourmalines to get out ash from their smoking pipes.

Lucky charm

All tourmalines have been used since ancient times as talismans and amulets. For example, it is believed that red stone helps to keep love, lilac one relieves emotional breakdowns, blue – brings peace and tranquility and promotes gaining wisdom. Multicolored tourmalines are the happiest gems that simultaneously bring good luck, creativity and erotic impulses; they make life easier, brighter and joyful.

Tourmalines contribute to a good mood of people surrounding the owner of the stone. Moreover, it is believed to stimulate artistic inspiration and intuition. This gemstone’s been a trusted talisman of artists and writers throughout the history.

Quality factors


One of the most popular tourmalines area red or pink variety called Rubellite. Stones of blue and green shades are also in demand.

However, Paraiba tourmaline of striking neon blue or green color still keeps dazzling the gem world. Prices for the best Paraíba tourmalines easily surpass other ones due to their attractive hues, higher color saturation, and rarity.


Tourmalines usually have various inclusions. The most typical ones resemble threads that run parallel to the length of the crystal. Growth tubes – long hollow tubes often capped with tiny mineral crystals are also common. If they’re numerous enough, they can cause a cat’s-eye effect.

Unless the number and size of the inclusions is distracting, dealers consider the color as the major value factor.

Although dealers usually ignore some eye-visible inclusions in tourmalines of strong and attractive color, gems with prominent inclusions are undesirable. 


Many tourmaline crystals have an elongated shape. As a result, there are many narrow and non-standard sizes of this gem. Although some are very attractive, many gem buyers prefer stones with standard dimensions because they’re easier to set in standard mountings.

Carat weight

Tourmalines in larger sizes rise considerably in per-carat price. Although they can reach spectacular sizes, these are rare. The price per carat generally increases as the gems pass the 5ct milestone.

Reuven’s comment

“A few decades ago, Tourmaline was neither popular nor in high demand. But then everything changed – today its price is steadily increasing.

On the top, of course, is the world renowned Paraiba Tourmaline – or just Paraiba. This magically colored gem sometimes costs more than diamonds. Paraiba is named after the deposit where it was mined, but which has already been exhausted. Therefore, Tourmalines of similar color are mined in Mozambique, Madagascar and other parts of Africa. Gems from these deposits are slightly cheaper but still their color literally drives everyone crazy.

Lagoon Blue Tourmalines – insanely beautiful stones of the sea water color – also increased in price by 3-4 times in recent years. 

The other variety of Tourmaline that is fashionable nowadays is the green Verdelite gem. Its price has increased by 2-3 times”.

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