Tourmaline Gemstone Buying Guide | Steve Moriarty - Moriartys Gem Art
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  • Tourmaline Gemstone Buying Guide by Steve Moriarty

    Tourmaline Guide


    What is the rarest Tourmaline?

    The rarest Tourmaline is called Paraiba. Along with being the rarest, it is also the most expensive. We only come across great Paraiba one every few years. The easiest way to see if a Tourmaline is Paraiba is by the neon-like blue and green with traces of copper.

    What colors is Tourmaline available in?

    Tourmaline is a gemstone that is available in many, many different colors. From black to deeper browns, to yellow, to blue, to green, to red, to yellow, to pink. Some Tourmaline can even be found colorless. And even better yet, you can find Tourmaline that have many different colors in one gemstone!

    Tourmaline price per carat?

    This is a tougher question, as it really depends on the color and clarity of the gemstone. With so many colors available in Tourmaline, you can find it at $50 a carat, or more rare Tourmaline can fetch up to $10,000 per carat.  True Brazilian Paraiba can hit $50000 per carat

    How do you determine the value of Tourmaline? Can these be very expensive?

    Value is market driven and changes often.  We check prices at trade shows and use the publication “The Gem Guide” which gives wholesale pricing also from worldwide trade shows.  Prices of tourmalines are generally under $500 per carat but in the case of Paraiba can reach $50000 per carat.

    Where is Tourmaline found?

    Tourmaline can be found all around the world. Some popular areas are Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, Burma (Myanmar), Sri Lanka (Ceylon), and the United States (California and Maine). If you are traveling to Africa, these African countries also have Tourmaline: Madagascar, Namibia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Malawi. Steve has traveled quite a bit to Madagascar and Tanzania. Congo is the newest source for fine Tourmalines.

    Is Tourmaline a Quartz? Why?

    Tourmaline is unrelated to quartz.  All characteristics are different from quartz.

    What is the refractive index of Tourmaline?

    The refractive index of tourmaline lies between 1.624 and 1.644.

    What are the main properties of Tourmaline?

    • Family: Silicates
    • Chemical Makeup: (Ca,K,Na,[])(Al,Fe,Li,Mg,Mn)3(Al,Cr, Fe,V)6 (BO3)3(Si,Al,B)6O18(OH,F)4
    • Crystal Habit: Parallel & elongated
    • Cleavage: Indistinct
    • Fracture: Uneven, small conchoidal, brittle
    • Mohs: 7-7.5
    • Luster: Vitreous, sometimes resinous
    • Specific gravity: 3.06
    • Density: 2.8 – 3.2
    • Pleochroism: Moderate 
    • Dispersion: .017
    • Crystal System: Hexagonal 

    What is the hardness or mohs scale for Tourmaline? How durable is it?

    It has a rating of 7-7.5. The higher the value, the harder the stone. With this level, Tourmaline is durable and can be worn in rings, pendants, bracelets and earrings with very few issues.

    What is Paraiba Tourmaline?

    This is the rarest of all Tourmaline. Neon-like blue and green with traces of copper. It is the incandescent glow that appears to light up the stone that makes this stone very popular, but also very rare. It can be up to $50,000 per carat, depending on the quality and size. Traditionally, this stone has come from Paraiba, Brazil. In recent years, discoveries have been made in Mozambique and Nigeria in Africa known as Cuprian Tourmaline.  The value of Cuprian tourmaline is significantly less than Paraiba but still can command prices over $10000 per carat.

    What are the healing properties?

    Looking at Chakras, Tourmaline energizes and balances Chakras. This can be slightly different depending on the color of the stone. For healing, Tourmaline is great for weight loss. It should be incorporated into one’s clothing. Unfortunately, there are so many uses for Tourmaline, due to the different colors. We highly recommend reviewing Healing with Crystals for a deep look into each.

    Tourmaline vs Emerald? Difference?

    The closest tourmaline in color to emerald is chrome tourmaline.  Both emerald and tourmaline are colored by chromium.  Chrome tourmaline is often of higher clarity than emerald but unlike emerald chrome tourmaline is often darker in color than emerald and can be overly dark.  The finest chrome tourmalines have a beauty that can outshine most emeralds and are rarer than emerald as the only source is Tanzania.

    Tourmaline vs Sapphire? Difference?

    Hardness and refractive index are there greatest differences.  Both come in a myriad of colors that can look similar but to the trained eye the look of each is different.

    What is the birthstone month?

    Tourmaline is commonly the birthstone for October. The generally accepted color for the birthstone is Pink Tourmaline.

    How do you identify a Tourmaline gemstone?

    Refractive index and strong birefringence is the easiest separation.  The dicroscope is helpful as the pleocroic colors are dramatic.  Rough crystals are often long and pencil like with line

    Can Tourmaline crack or break easily?

    It has a 7-7.5 on the Mohs scale so it won’t break easily. But there are areas of tension within Tourmaline that can cause it to crack, but this is mainly when jewelers are working on the store or setting it. Not common with every day use.

    Can Tourmaline get wet?

    Water has no effect on tourmaline.

    Can Tourmaline be heated?

    Many are heated to alter the color but it needs to be done slowly.  Inclusions within the stone can cause damage when heating.

    Can Tourmaline be tumbled?


    Is Tourmaline ever treated?

    Heating is the most common but some material particularly Brazillian rubellites are irradiated to alter color.

    Can Tourmaline fade?

    Fading only occurs with high temperature and is often used to improve the color of overly dark tourmalines.  They do not fade under normal wear.

    Can Tourmaline be white? Blue?

    Yes, Tourmaline can be found in blue known as indicolite tourmaline, The blue is also seen in Pariaba Tourmaline. It’s more of a neon green-blue color. While white is not available tourmaline can be found to be clear known as acroite tourmaline.

    What color Tourmaline is best? Worst?

    Paraiba is the most valuable but what is best is a personal thing.  Each color has a more desirable shade with the least value being those that are over dark and secondary shades like browns which sometimes detracts from the beauty as in pink tourmalines.

    How is Tourmaline formed?

    Tourmaline is produced in pegmatites. When the liquids begin to cool, the minerals crystallize and form Tourmaline crystals.

    How do you clean Tourmaline?

    Generally a soft brush and mild detergent is best.  Many will be ok in an ultrasonic cleaner if cool but there is still some risk.  Steam cleaning should never be used.

    When was Tourmaline first discovered?

    While the exact date is known. It is believed that the conquistadors in Brazil first discovered Tourmaline in the 1500’s. What was discovered were green Tourmalines, which they actually thought we Emeralds. It wasn’t until the 1800’s that scientists figured out that these stones were not actually Emeralds, but their own species of mineral, which they called Tourmaline.

    Who discovered Tourmaline

    It is believed that the conquistadors in Brazil were the first ones to discover Tourmaline.

    Why is watermelon Tourmaline so expensive?

    Rarity and high demand make this unique gem so valuable.  Few gems have such a distinct character.  Watermelon in the trade are the slices that look like a watermelon slice with a green rind and pink center. Most in the public also think of bi-color and tri-color tourmalines as watermelon.  These are generally long pencil shape faceted bars with one end green and one end red with some having a clear or yellow center.

    Is green Tourmaline rare? Can it be expensive?

    Green tourmaline is most expensive when it has some blue in it or appears more like emerald as in the Chrome Tourmaline.

    How do you tell if Tourmaline is real vs fake?

    I have seen a few fakes which were hard to believe they were fake because tourmaline has such a distinct look, particularly greens and blues.  Gemological testing for refractive index and birefringence is the best separation.

    What makes Tourmaline a certain color?

    The amount of manganese and copper cause the different colors in Tourmaline.

    • Red-Manganese
    • Pink-Manganese or titanium
    • Green-Iron, vanadium, chromium
    • Blue-Iron

    Is Tourmaline a good investment stone?

    Tourmaline has great beauty and is in high demand so if you can buy high quality at a good price it has potential as an investment.  Look for new discoveries that for a short period are often seen at lower prices due to large supply.

    Is pink tourmaline the same as rubellite?

    Once pink looks red it is rubellite.  Most rubellite will have some violet or pink color highlights but you should look at it and the best description should be red.  G.I.A states that it could have brownish, orangy or purplish secondary colors.

    Is Tourmaline considered a precious gemstone?

    Yes tourmaline is precious,at up to $50000 per carat it is what I would consider precious.  The terms precious and semi-precious have lost their meaning in today’s gem market.

    Is Tourmaline Magnetic?

    Some tourmalines are magnetic particularly those with high concentrations of iron. Of the rough tourmalines that I have in stock I cannot detect any magnetism.  They do carry an electrical charge and if you leave tourmalines in place for a long term they tend to develop a ring of dust around them.

    Does Tourmaline have pleochroism?

    Toumalines are strongly pleochroic with dramatic color differences when viewed with a dicroscope.

    See Our Large Selection of Tourmaline Here


    Questions? Ask the expert and owner, Steve Moriarty. He has over 40 year experience in the industry. GIA certified gemologist. Learn more about Steve Moriarty here.