How dear is your tourmaline? Precious Rubellite!

Threw my friend a well known goldsmith in the Pittsburgh Pa area, I have come to know a fellow that sells melee, casts metal and has been involved in the lapidary trade for years.

In the eighties a major find of reddish tourmaline was found in Nigeria.  It was a massive find and actually depressed the price of find grade Rubellite for a while.  The most outstanding quality of the find, besides heating to a fine red in the best stones, was its purity.  A purity that is seldom found in Rubellite.

Well, many people that do not normally buy rough, like my business acquaintance, purchased a stock of rough from Nigeria because it was so inexpensive and available.   It turns out that included in the pile of rough that this fellow squirreled away years ago were some very large pieces of rough that heated to an excellent red color.  (plus twenty carats)

After heating the material, the owner of the rough was shocked and delighted with offers for the rough from German buyers that were on the order of ten times what he expected to get for the rough.  (150 dollars to over 350 dollars per carat for rough material.)

I have written before, how the price of tourmaline has sky rocked and damaged my ability to keep cutting fine quality tourmaline.  I feel that the prices the Germans were willing to pay for large, top grade Rubellite can be directly attributed to the interest that the Chinese have in red gemstones and tourmaline in particular.  Gone forever are the moderate days of the past, when the beauty of tourmaline could be purchased for a modest sum.  (I also attribute the large increase in the price of tourmaline to the discovery of cuprian tourmaline in Brazil that was augmented by discoveries in Mozambique and Nigeria.  This gave tourmaline a champion that commands top dollar and put tourmaline in the limelight, at least in selected parts of the trade.  The part with lots of money.)





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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