Tourmaline’s range of colors is unparalleled, possessing the widest range of colors of any gem family. It is found in virtually every color of the spectrum; from rich reds to pastel pinks and peach, intense emerald greens to vivid yellows and deep blues. In addition to possessing a rainbow of hues, it has a wide array of tones which run the gamut from intense to pastels.

Members of the gem trade often create trade names to represent certain gemstones. Tourmaline has received its fair share of trade names, such as:

  • Rubellite is pink to red hued tourmaline. This trade name is commonly used, but unfortunately, there’s no consensus on a clear definition.
  • Verdelite is a trade name less often used today, but when used describes any shade of green tourmaline, from yellow green to pure green to blue green.
  • Chrome tourmaline is a specific vibrant green which originates in East Africa.
  • Indicolite means it’s a blue tourmaline.
  • Paraiba is an intense neon green to blue to violet tourmaline named in recognition of the Brazilian state where they were discovered.
  • Schorl are black tourmalines.
  • Savannah tourmaline is the name given by some dealers to a bright yellow tourmaline.

Because of tourmaline’s endless color spectrum, most shades don’t have a trade name, instead, using the color as an adjective, such as "purple tourmaline."

A well-known characteristic of tourmaline is color zoning. Color zoning can show up two ways:

  • The depth of a single color can vary within a given crystal, known as parti-color.
  • A distinct change of color occurs within a single crystal, known as bicolor. The most well-known example of bicolor is watermelon tourmaline. The center forms in a pink color, which is overgrown by green colored tourmaline. When cut correctly, the stone resembles a slice of watermelon with the pink “flesh” surrounded by its green rind”. Many other color combinations are possible.

Tourmaline is commercially important in today’s gemstone market. Because of its myriad combinations of colors, sizes, and quality, it can be found in every price range, from commercial grade to superb high-end pieces. Finished tourmaline gemstones are cut into both common and unusual shapes and large, even spectacular, sizes. However, such large pieces remain quite rare. Tourmalines are subjected to a number of gemstone treatments, the most common of which are heating and irradiation. Reputable dealers, like 100 East Fine Jewelry, disclose all gemstone treatments to prospective buyers.

At 100 East Fine Jewelry, we like featuring tourmaline gemstones in our higher end jewelry designs. They can beautifully enhance either an unconventional design or more traditional one. The design possibilities are limited only by the designer’s imagination.

Tourmaline is one of two October birthstones. To learn more about it, visit our Education and Resources page. There you can learn about gemstones, caring for your jewelry, cleaning fine jewelry and much more.

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