Color Change/Shift in Red Tourmaline

Feb. 27th 2010

The first well known feature of some red tourmaline is that it de-saturates under incandescent light and turns brownish. This is not desirable and has cause the use of the variety name Rubellite to be only acceptable for red to pink tourmaline that does not desaturate. I also prefer to use Rubellite for only reds, but I have see rich pinks etc. included in the name. This leaves the name red tourmaline to be used for gems that de-saturate.

The stable red/purples and a shift to purple that some red tourmaline show under different “white” lights is appreciated by different people to varying degrees. Some consider a purplish red color to be top level color while others might disagree. Traditionally violet pink was not as prized as pink, but the purple pink cuprian tourmaline coming out of Mozambique is certainly prized.

The wonderful mix of stable reds and shifting reds that include brown, purple and orange shades makes a red, a great choice for a distinctive and personal gemstone. Check out my collection on the Gemological Project to see some.

Now for a personal aside.

When life was younger, I would ask my daughter what colors my tourmaline were, as I finished them[faceting]. She was at an age when she was always sure. One day in winter with snow all around, I waited, with my latest red, to see if this tourmaline would pass my daughters test. I had not really looked at the red when it came off the dop stick and just before she came into the room, I walked over to the window, looking out over the fields of snow, to check the gem. When I looked down I saw purple. I sighed, put the purple into my pocket and didn’t even question the wonderful world of tourmaline.


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