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Tourmaline: Nature's Paintbox

By  Judith Anderson  GG, CGA

A beautiful Paraiba Tourmaline. Do you remember,  as a young child,  being enchanted by the dazzling array of colors in your first paint set?  What about the excitement created by an extra-large box of Crayola Crayons with 128 colors and over 15 shades of blue?  The many varieties of Tourmaline create the same sense of enchantment and excitement for the jewelry designer.

The intense rainbow-like colors of Tourmaline are a visual experience not easily captured in words.  Of all the gemstones,  Tourmaline exhibits the most diverse and vibrant display of colors.  Its name is derived from the Singhalese word "turamali& meaning "stones of many colors."  The following is a brief guide to the brilliant colors of the Tourmaline palette.

Paraiba Tourmaline is famous for its stunning electric teals and rich sapphire-like blues.  Found only in Brazil,  Paraiba is as beautiful,  as it is rare.

Indicolite Tourmaline  (from the same root as "indigo")  is a deep blue often with subtle shadings of green.  Although lesser known,  Indicolite rivals the beauty and colors of sapphire and aquamarine.

Rubellite Tourmaline ranges in color from raspberry red to dark cranberry with flashes of violet.  Rubellite is an international gemstone,  with gem-quality stones found in California,  Africa,  Afghanistan and Brazil.

Tourmaline and diamond necklace in platinum.

Pendant with Iridescent Pyrite (J2904)
Pink Tourmaline is an American beauty from southern California.  Common varieties range from jazzy,  hot pink to lighter pastel shades.

Chrome Tourmaline,  from East Africa,  is a rich,  bright green with a hint of yellow.  It is not surprising that this gemstone is often mistaken for emerald.

Maine Tourmaline,  from the Mt. Mica region,  is a beguiling mint-green reminiscent of Granny Smith apples.  Other colors from Maine include pastel pinks,  dark greens and bi-colored watermelon slices.

Tourmaline is a relatively hard gemstone that is not easily scratched or chipped.  The breadth of its multi-colored palette makes tourmaline an ideal gemstone for custom designed,  high profile jewelry.

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