Cuprian Tourmaline, The Internet, Information

I have never tracked anything on the inter net like I have information about cuprian tourmaline.  I use the term cuprian tourmaline as a way to cover  all the flavors of tourmaline with copper (cu+2) as its chromophore.  This includes many colors that include such notables as Paraiba and paraiba type tourmaline.

It seems to me that to be first about a new subject is paramount to being at the top of the pile and being at the top of the pile leads to being read often and therefore remaining at the top of the pile.  How do you like that for being a pile.  This appears to be true even when the article may be based on limited information since it was first/early or may contain outright incorrect information.  Other sites pick up on the first one and away we go into piles of posts that are not critically evaluated, but validated by having so many others “support” it.  This whole issue is particularly bad when you are dealing with an author that has a good reputation, developed in a different part of the trade and writes with a sophisticated sarcasm that makes you feel so knowledgeable in accepting the opinion.

The specific case I am talking about here is the justification for the exceptional prices of cuprian tourmaline in the form of Paraiba and paraiba type tourmaline when compared to paraiba like tourmaline colored by iron (paraiba like)   The argument goes that both types of cuprian with paraiba’s most desired color, cyan, can be duplicated by the paraiba like tourmaline colored by iron alone.  I can personally verify that this is true, but it misses the critical element between the two, of, for lack of a better word “neoness”.   Sincere reasonable trade people have taken exception to the term so I have come to call the glowing appearance of high quality cuprian tourmaline, its visual impact.  (Vividness just doesn’t go far enough for me)  It is this “neoness/glow” that deserves the extra bucks and not the tourmaline’s color alone, in my opinion.  This factor of visual impact is not mentioned in the trade’s definition of Paraiba/paraiba type tourmaline (It is just based on containing copper/manganese or not as a chromophore and the gemstone’s range of colors).  Therefor, the definition compounds the problem of really getting what you should get for the exceptional prices of beautiful cuprian tourmaline from anywhere.

To sum up.  Color, alone, should not be the determining factor in evaluating cuprian tourmaline (Provenience is a different issue) physical beauty and quality.  Visual impact, “neoness” is at least as important in my opinion and not all cuprian tourmaline have a high level of visual impact regardless of provenience.  And none of the tourmaline with only an iron chromophore can match the best grades of cuprian tourmaline in visual impact, regardless of  color in my opinion.  So the best cuprian tourmaline deserves its price, but so much does not.  And working the inter net for information will not really help clarify this because it is still clogged with early/highly rated posts pushing color difference.  An argument endless support by uncritical repeating of an existing “truth”.



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 Introduction. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

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