Achroite with a secret#966

Copper Bearing Achroite This very bright and flashy standard round brilliant weighs 2.17 carats. It has just a hint of blue purple and its copper content has been verified with a spectrometer.

There is always a danger in seeing what you want or expect to see in a pale colored stone with tourmaline.  Many to most tourmalines have two colors (a/b and c axis) and those colors can be quite sensitive to lighting.  Now this shouldn’t be a problem with a true Achroite, which is colorless because it is so pure”. (This is a set up)

Now when I saw a picture of the rough that became this delightful stone of 2.17 carats, I did not see any color in the picture.  When I received the rough, I did not see any color, but it had been advertised as a blue/purple, which made it irresistible to me.  When I cut it into a simple standard round brilliant, I did not see any color.   The lack of color even helped the clean stone to be very bright and flashy.   Again and again, no color,let alone blue-purple, in the stone.  This was not particularly pleasing to me, so as I was commenting on the gemstone, I asked others to see what color it was.  They saw fleeting hints of blue-purple.  (I guess the rumors that the seller was partially color blind or had my number were premature.)

Can this conundrum be resolved?  Well here goes.  I have read that they have instruments that can see into the eye so clearly, that they can count individual light sensors (rods and cones).   The ratio of the three different colored light sensors (cones) appears to vary a lot even with “normal” eyes.  I have seen this difference in personal color perception, effect the line between yellow and green and red and purple, a lot in tourmaline.  Your color perception tends to also yellow with age.  So my old worn eyes were not up to the task here, but I wanted a more “scientific” answer.

Now about four years ago, I purchased a small spectrometer to test my collection for copper in tourmaline and whatever else I could find.  I found quite a few cuprian tourmaline that I did not know about and even some other gems, like an iolite and rhodolite, that did not belong.  It was fun using the spectrometer and when I work out some problems with light sources, I intend to do more work with the tourmaline.  When I used my “toy” on the wayward “achroite” that MAY be purple blue, I got a wonderful classic absorption curve of a cuprian tourmaline!  So my eyes have been shot down for sure.  But since I am the head honcho with this collection, I still call this copper bearing  tourmaline an achroite, because that is still the way I see it.


Some tourmalines and their colors that they show continue to amaze me.  The following is a true story, where no names have been changed to protect the innocent.  My younger daughter Audrey lives in Key West with her husband who is in the Air Force.  They were back for a high school reunion and to say good bye for while, because they are moving to Okanawa.  I was driving them around and felt it was a perfect time for her to see some of the tourmaline collection.  What she likes and sees is always interesting.  As I was driving she comment on some and asked questions and then I noticed out of the corner of my eye that she was looking closely at the Achroite in this post.  Why I asked inocently and she said that it had a sort of gray blue purple color that she liked.  She held it over and on the windy road I took a quick peek and sure enough I could see it!  Of all things with this stone!  I am back home and looking at the stone.  It is showing me the bearest hint of color in the shadows of a setting day.  All I can say is that Audrey liked it and picked it out of 100 of some of the best stone  in my collection.  That is pretty good for me no matter what this gemstone really is.







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.
This entry was posted in Achroite, Cuprian Tourmaline, Etc. and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.