If you love color, Tourmaline offers a dazzling array of vibrant hues to choose from. The word “Tourmaline” derives from an early Sri Lankan word referring to these brightly colored gemstones, which have been found there since ancient times. Today they are found in a number of other regions including Brazil, Afghanistan, East Africa and the United States.
A crystalline boron silicate mineral containing various metallic elements, tourmaline’s complex chemistry accounts for its broad range of naturally occurring colors. Some colors associated with specific tourmaline varieties include the rich intense reds and pinks of Rubellite, the deep blue of Indicolite and the intense bright green of Chrome Tourmaline. Shades of pink, peach and fuchsia; seafoam , lime and mint greens; light to deep blue, teal, and golden colors all abound. Bi-colored crystals also occur, usually green at one end and pink at the other, which is often called “Watermelon” Tourmaline.
The discovery of tourmaline in California in 1898 touched off lots of excitement in the international jewelry market. Additional discoveries in the mountains of Maine were noted for their exceptional color and clarity. The Tiffany Company, with their reputation for high quality standards, marketed these natural wonders, making the United States the world center for fine quality tourmaline in the early 1900’s. After a hiatus of almost 100 years, tourmaline production was resumed in recent years at the Harvey quarry, north of Portland, Maine. The Havey Mine is known for the bright pink and mint green tourmaline of exceptional clarity. This historic locality produces some of the finest gem quality tourmaline found anywhere.
Much of the tourmaline mined today comes from the Minas Gerais region of Brazil. Many are also found in Africa, with Nigeria being a major source. Tanzania is the source for chrome tourmaline, which is the most rare and expensive green tourmaline available. Top specimens of this gem exhibit a green that tempts confusion with fine emeralds.
Susan Marie Designs is the gallery and design studio of goldsmith Susan Marie Phipps. Located at 19 Biltmore Avenue, it is part of the Downtown Asheville Art District. A goldsmith for over 34 years, Susan loves challenging herself to create new and exciting designs. As a G.I.A. Graduate Gemologist she hand selects the finest gem quality tourmalines and other natural color gemstones to inspire her work. She invites you to visit her gallery to enjoy her latest jewelry creations.