Tourmalines not only show every hue of the rainbow, but also an incredible range of color saturations and tones—from expensive electric blues to affordable olive greens.
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What To Look For
With all the amazing colors of tourmaline there is a color for every preference. While highly saturated colors without dark black areas are the most valuable, less saturated “earth” colors have become popular.
Tourmalines often grow in an environment rich in liquids, and some of those liquids are often captured as inclusions during crystal growth. The most typical inclusions resemble thread-like cavities parallel to the length of the crystal. If cut as a cabochon these may cause a cat’s eye effect.
Rather than cutting every tourmaline lengthwise, many cutters orient a fashioned gem based on its depth of color. To darken pale rough, they orient a gem’s table perpendicular to the crystal’s length. To lighten dark rough, they orient a gem’s table parallel to the crystal’s length.
Fashioned tourmalines in larger sizes rise considerably in per-carat price. Even though specimens can reach spectacular sizes, these are rare. Availability drops and prices rise sharply for facet-quality rough material.
Tourmaline Quality Factors: The Comprehensive Guide
Tips & Advice
1. There’s a tourmaline in your favorite color.
Tourmalines in bright and muted colors span the spectrum. This gem is also perfect for those who like color combinations, with bicolor and tricolor gems that are cut to show both colors.
2. Find a jeweler who can show you a variety of tourmaline.
Jewelers who know and love gemstones have a range of tourmaline colors available to show you.
3. Don’t compromise on cut.
The quality of the cut can make a big difference in beauty and brilliance. Your tourmaline should sparkle in a lively way, reflecting light back evenly across the entire gem. Poorly cut gems are much less marketable and sell at a discount.
4. Tourmalines present extra challenges in store displays.
Tourmaline’s unusual electrical “pyroelectric” property means when it heats up under the lights of display cases, it gains a slight charge, attracting extra dust.