The Colorful World of Tourmaline

The Colorful World of the Tourmaline
Tourmaline has one of the widest color ranges of any gem species, occurring in various shades of virtually every hue.

Bashert Jewelry. The Colorful World of the Tourmaline Gems. Gem Encyclopedia.









The Tourmaline is a unique miracle of color. These gems are mesmerizing in all the color variety they offer, from the remarkable intense violet-to-blue gems to Paraíba, Brazil, and similar blues from Africa. Gemologists generally agreed that traces of iron, and possibly titanium, induce green and blue colors in Tourmalines. Manganese produces reds and pinks, and possibly yellows. 


Birthstones & Anniversaries:
Tourmaline is a birthstone for October, along with Opal. Tourmaline is also the gem of the 8th anniversary.

The Most Candy of all Candy Color Gems
is a name for pink, red, purplish red, orangy-red, or brownish red tourmaline, although some in the trade argue that the term shouldn’t apply to pink tourmaline.


Pink tourmaline, also called rubellite, is one of the most valuable kinds of tourmaline.  The most important determiner of the value of a rubellite is its color.  The best rubellites are a strong, bright, glowing deep pink.  After color, the most important factor is its clarity.  Perfectly clear rubellite is hard to find, though, so slightly imperfect clarity won’t hinder the value very much.  The next most important factor is the size of the pink tourmaline.  Rubellites over 3 carats are quite rare and will have a premium on the per carat price.  Rubellites over 5 carats are even rarer and can cost thousands of dollars. 

Blue tourmaline, also called "indicolite" or "indigolite"


All Blue Tourmaline is a very rare and special kind of tourmaline,  even the non-copper-bearing specimens. The word "Indicolite" is derived from the Latin word, meaning 'indicum plant'. The soothing blue color promotes a calming effect and offers relief from stress. The "Indicolite" Tourmaline, colored by iron, can vary from a light to a deep blue. Like most tourmaline, it is strongly pleochroic, meaning it shows different hues when viewed from different directions.

Chrome Tourmaline
intense deep green color with deep blue undertones at times
Chrome makes green tourmalines look like emeralds


If you ask a gemstone merchant about a tourmaline, green, in most cases, is the first color he will think of. However, there is something fascinating about the individuality of the Chrome Tourmaline. That is the name given to the emerald green variety from Tanzania, colored by vanadium and chrome. Its color is extraordinarily beautiful and amazingly similar to that of a fine emerald, which, after all, is among the most expensive gemstones in the world.

Mesmerizing Blue from the state of Paraíba, Brazil
ocean waves in intense violetish blue, greenish blue, or blue tourmaline


Glowing from the inside out, the Paraiba Tourmaline is not only rare, but comes in various colors including neon blue, neon blue-green, and more. Discovered in the 1980's, this gem is commonly found in the country of Brazil. All Tourmalines with “Paraiba-like” colors are tested for their required chemical composition to qualify as such. For each eligible tourmaline which shows a “Paraiba” color, the origin is determined, mainly by means of chemical analysis. All Paraiba Tourmalines sources have to be positively distinguished of “Paraiba” tourmalines, i.e., Brazil, Mozambique, and Nigeria. It is interesting to note that the origin of EVERY PARAIBA tourmaline, has to be determined, regardless if the client wishes to have the origin mentioned on the report or not.

Party Color Tourmalines and Watermelon Tourmalines
color happy tourmalines that display more than one color
crystals of this material are typically cut in slices to display this special arrangement


One of the most common combinations for these Tourmalines is green and pink, but many others are possible. The Watermelon Tourmaline is pink in the center and green around the outside and it is in a unique class of its own. Crystals of this material are typically cut in slices to display this special arrangement. Watermelon Tourmaline has been located in various parts of the world including Africa. Countries in Africa that have reported findings of Watermelon Tourmaline are Mozambique and South Africa. On the other hand, countries like Madagascar, Mozambique, Sri Lanka and US states such as California and Maine have discovered vast amounts of Watermelon Tourmaline.

Interesting To Know:
  • Trigonal System - Tourmaline crystallizes in the trigonal system; no other common mineral has three-sided prisms.
  • Watermelon Variety - Watermelon tourmaline is green on the outside and a delicious pink on the inside.
  • Paraiba - Brazilian source famous for vivid blue to green tourmalines colored by copper.
  • Pyro-electric - Tourmaline becomes electrically charged when heated. Also when squeezed: it’s piezoelectric too.
  • 1554 - Francisco Spinoza’s expedition discovers “Brazilian emerald”: The first recorded green tourmaline crystal. 
  • The History of Tourmalines:

    Somewhere in Brazil in the 1500s, a Spanish conquistador washed the dirt from a green tourmaline crystal and confused the vibrant gem with emerald. His confusion lived on until scientists recognized tourmaline as a distinct mineral species in the 1800s. The confusion about the stone’s identity is even reflected in its name, which comes from "toramalli", which means “mixed gems” in Sinhalese (a language of Sri Lanka). It’s a term Dutch merchants applied to the multicolored, water-worn pebbles that miners found in the gem gravels of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). It’s easy to understand why people so easily confuse tourmaline with other gems. Very few gems match tourmaline’s dazzling range of colors. From rich reds to pastel pinks and peach colors, intense emerald greens to vivid yellows and deep blues. One of the earliest reports of tourmaline in California was in 1892. In the late 1800s, tourmaline became known as an American gem through the efforts of Tiffany gemologist George F. Kunz. He wrote about the tourmaline deposits of Maine and California and praised the stones they produced.

    Photos Courtesy of GIA