For millennia, tourmaline has led us into a whirlwind of colors similar to those of the rainbow. Being part of many gems because of the extent of its colors, it remains none the less unique.
Tourmaline often allows us to discover it in colors and concentrations of unexpected colors, all in the same crystal and sometimes even it reveals its magic, letting a cat's eye appear! Tourmaline encompasses a group of minerals full of surprises, which share the same crystal structure but are distinguished by their chemical and physical properties. Once again, nature has many treasures: the same gem can be declined in a thousand and one faces, according to the elements that compose it.
Tourmalines are silicates: ie composed mainly of silica combined with various metal oxides. The diversity of these elements confers on these atypical gemstones the originality of presenting a gradation of colors. Rare are the monochrome tourmalines! Crystal structure: a tourmaline crystal is a prism in length, the section of which takes the form of a triangle with rounded ends. Tourmalines in the raw state also have vertical streaks at the surface. Hardness: on the Mohs scale ranging from 1 to 10 (1 for dry soap and 10 for diamond), tourmaline oscillates between 7 and 7.5, which gives it a good scratch resistance. Care instructions: cleaning is recommended with a soft cloth, soap and lukewarm water. Treatments: Like many gemstones, it is common for tourmalines to be heated or irradiated, both of which do not alter the fact that they are natural. The heating makes it possible to attenuate shades which are too pronounced or poorly distributed. So a very dark green can become bright green for example. There is also irradiation treatment, which can transform a stone too pale into a gem with vibrant and intense colors. In this way one can go from a bland pink to a sparkling red-pink. Heating and irradiation are the most common treatments in tourmalines, sometimes carried out by nature itself. These are common and undetectable processes, which give tourmaline the opportunity to reveal itself in a more beautiful, more sparkling light, thus taking us away in its innumerable spirals of ever more vivid colors!
Numerous terms exist to designate a particular type of tourmaline, according to its dominant color, the intensity, the distribution, the plurality of its tints, or the phenomenon created by its inclusions. The five most used and coveted varieties on the jewelry market are:
- Rubellite: this tourmaline is intense pink-red color linked to the presence of a chemical element called manganese. Professionals find it difficult to agree on the exact definition of the characteristic color of a rubellite. However, it is clear that a tourmaline can not be considered as such if its pink is too pale or its red too dark: rubellite remains a gem of pink to bright red, the most prized hue being that resembling a Ruby fuchsia sparkling. Sometimes carved in cabochon as on the pendant Gourmandise of the creator Philippe Tournaire, it arouses desire and covetous ... Its color reminiscent of candy, we almost eat! Here is a nice anecdote about this tourmaline-candy: in 1978, an unprecedented discovery marked the history of rubellite forever. Indeed, it is in the State of Minas Gerais in Brazil, more precisely in the mine of Jonas, that miners have got their hands on a treasure of rubellite never before equaled: hundreds of kilos of rubellites of quality jewelry buried In the rock! This event that has been around the world is known as "bamburrio", which means jackpot. It must be said that before discovering this wonder, miners discouraged by their fruitless search for 6 months no longer believed in the miracle! Still a beautiful lesson of perseverance to achieve what seems inaccessible!
- the Paraiba tourmaline: discovered in 1989 in the State of Paraiba in Brazil, its color goes from electric blue, sometimes called "neon blue" to fluorescent green. This gem must to a great extent its vibrant color to the combination of copper and manganese. This unusual combination of chemical elements is its own and allows scientists to identify it, besides its unparalleled color. It is the most popular of all tourmalines and one that reaches the wildest prices. Its intense color, its rarity are for many. Paraiba lovers emphasize its color and not its weight. It is uncommon to encounter a tourmaline worthy of the name whose weight exceeds 2 carats! Since this discovery in Brazil, other deposits appeared in Nigeria in Africa in 2001, with tourmalines in colors close to the Paraiba, which also contain copper and manganese. This tourmaline being the eponymous gem of the State of Paraiba, it is delicate to speak of tourmaline "Paraiba" when it does not come from the said Brazilian region. It is also sometimes complicated to assert the origin of the said gemstone because in Brazil as in Africa, it has the same chemical properties.
- the Chrome tourmaline: known since the 1960s, its color goes from an intense green tinged blue to an intense green slightly tinged with yellow. Like most Brazilian emeralds, most chromic tourmalines owe their color to the chemical element called vanadium. This gem comes mainly from Tanzania and Kenya. Green tourmaline of less intense color is generally called verdelite and encompasses all shades of green due to the presence of iron.
- indicolite or indigolite: this term is used to designate blue tourmalines, in which iron is also very present. The majority of these tourmalines in green and blue tones must be of a certain caliber to show an intense color, which is not the case for tourmalines and Paraiba, which have the ability to combine both small caliber And vibrant color. Blue and green tourmalines come mainly from Brazil, the United States, Afghanistan and Africa.
- the multi-colored tourmaline and watermelon: it often happens that several colors are distinguished along a crystal of tourmaline. This phenomenon can be explained by changes in the concentration of chemical elements during the formation of the gem. A troubling example is the tourmaline "watermelon", commonly cut into slices, like a watermelon: the heart of the crystal is pink-red, the upper layer yellow-white and the border is green ... Exactly like the fruit! In addition to these five famous varieties, one can also evoke the schörl and the cat's eye, atypical tourmalines, one for its intense black and the other being a puzzle stone ... Tourmaline schörl refers to black tourmalines in their entirety . Long used in mourning jewelry, this gem rich in iron is present in many countries ... No need to look very far, one finds in the mountains of Forez, region of the creator Philippe Tournaire! So there is an intriguing phenomenon, that of the shimmering tourmaline. A cat's eye is then drawn on a tourmaline carved in a cabochon. This is due to a group of large inclusions in the form of tubes, parallel to one another, which once brought to light by the lapidary give rise to this type of feature. The cat's eye of a tourmaline is often wider and cloudy than on other enigmatic gems such as chrysoberyl shimmering, for example.
They are colorless, black, pink, blue, green, yellow ... Tourmalines swirl around us around the world. Just as Australia is the cradle of opal, Brazil is the cradle of tourmaline. Especially the State of Minas Gerais which is considered the largest producer of tourmalines of all colors and this on an international scale. Then come Africa, Asia and the United States. Of course other deposits exist, the ones listed above being the main ones. Tourmaline is one of the gem families offering the greatest variety of colors. So many combinations, nuances and tones reflect the richness of nature! Surprising harmony of colors that can reveal a single stone! When tourmalines are bright and sparkling, Philippe Tournaire likes to use them for his creations, thus subliming them by associating them with other wonders such as sapphires, diamonds ... And the magic of organized disorder operates ... The tourmaline tornado carries all Colors of the world on its way and makes us want to just travel!