A face-up beige with a split personality.


beige with split personality Bi-color, green pavilion and pink crown cut to mix and make a beige emerald cut beige with split personality from the side Second picture of a beige emerald cut from the side to show the two layers of color, pink and green, that mixed to make beige face up.

Watermelon is a great term for describing a classic color distribution in tourmaline.  The most famous combination of colors is pink/red in the center with a pale color band separating it from a green skin, but it comes in many color combinations.  This combination is gotten by slicing the usually long thin crystals of tourmaline perpendicular to the long axis of the crystal.   While this color distribution can make beautiful and interesting slabs, it is not as useful as you might think in making beautiful faceted gemstones for a variety of reasons.

1,  The skin is too thin to be retained in the faceted gemstone.

2,  The colors do not blend together very well and the mixing effect of the faceting produces a muddy color.

3,  The skin of the watermelon tourmaline has too many radial flaws (flaws parallel to the slices that we would have made from the crystal to show the watermelon effect) even if the core is facet grade.

And then there are the exceptions to the limited usefulness of watermelon style tourmaline in faceting.  This gemstone was cut from one of the exceptional pieces.  It really did not look that interesting when I received it from Africa.  It had been tumbled to display a band of  pale pastel pink and another of pale pastel green in a reasonably chunky piece of rough (like a quarter of a watermelon sliced down the long axis of the melon).   The only way that both colors could be shown separately  in a faceted gemstones would have made a long, thin emerald cut with the color separation parallel to the long axis of the emerald cut.  This way of cutting the rough would not have made an efficient use of the material or produced an effective gemstone.  So I cut it with the pale green band in the culet and the pale pink band in the crown of an emerald cut.

Now the mixing of green and pink produces everything from yellow to oranges to browns and is an adventure to do.  So as the excitement of finishing another “different” tourmaline approached, I only hoped that the mixing of the colors with very low tone levels would make a gemstone with some easily discernible  color.  I was rewarded with a delightful gemstone of a moderate beige hue and nice tone level.  It stays beige when you tilt the gemstones from face-up very well (there really is very little green left in the pavilion) and the stone gives a light airy presence that most brown (Dravite) tourmalines lack.  This is probably do to the great tone level and the lack of dichrois that most dravites display strongly.   A final plus for me is that it has a hue that is unique in my collection.





About Bruce Fry

I was born in Summit, NJ in 1947 and graduated from Summit High School in 1966. I graduated from the Colorado School of Mines in 1970 and after spending another year in graduate school, I left to see the world of Brazil. After spending some more time discovering myself, I ended up working for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for 32 years as an Air Quality Engineer in the Department of Environmental Protection. I retired in 2007 and took up faceting gemstones again after a long hiatus that reached back to my twenties. I had started cutting cabochons when I was 13 and bought my first faceting machine when I was 15, but ran out of money and time until I retired. My great love in gemology is tourmaline and the collection presented here represents my effort to get as much beauty and variety in the colors of tourmaline as I can. I was particularly lucky in being able to get unheated cuprian tourmaline before copper was discovered in gem grade tourmaline from Mozambique.
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