Introduction, pictures and comments on five waves of tourmaline rough.

I started cutting gemstones again after a long hiatus in 1998.  I have purchased most of my rough from Africa, but there has also been a  significant amount of rough coming from Afghanistan.  Getting this site going and posting comments on many tourmaline, that I have not looked at closely for awhile, has lead me to the idea of posting pictures and information about the waves of tourmaline rough that have come and gone since 1998.  What I mean by waves is either a new deposit of interesting tourmaline has been discovered and made available or at least an old source has become available to me for a while.  The following five waves of rough are certainly not inclusive or complete for the world, only my little world.

Del Gado Mozambique

I am starting with this wave, because it was a really well defined and brief window of opportunity.   I think that it only lasted for about 6 months.  It also lead to the cutting of a limited number of exceptional gemstones that deserved to be shown together.

The first time I heard about tourmaline  from Del Gado, (which is the northern most state in Mozambique) was in an article in the GIA’s magazine Gems and Gemology.  The article described a lot of tourmaline that had submitted for testing from Del Gado.  The colors were mostly greens and browns and not terribly exciting.  But the tourmaline had turned out to be either Dravite, the species or Liddicoatite, a closely related species to Elbaite,(the most common tourmaline in gemstones).  Wow, something different in tourmaline from Mozambique.

The first pieces of Del Gado rough that I could get came from a dealer, I occasionally work with when he has smaller pieces of interesting tourmaline.  The rough was mostly off shades of green and brown and was so included that I could not get a decent stone from it.  I preformed a few pieces and put them aside just in case I never could get anything better because I wanted at least one example of the material in my collection.  I never cut the preforms.

The real break threw came when my principle supplier out of Africa put up his new pages.  There in the middle of all the great colorful pieces of rough were big chunks of water worn tourmaline from Del Gado.  I always push to get my order in as soon as I can, because the most interesting material usually is gone within a day after posting.   The rough was mixed pastel colors of pink, green, orange and yellow and wasn’t inexpensive.  Still I was loaded and primed and I fired an email back to Africa, going for the widest selection of colors in the best pieces available.  To my surprise, I got every pieces I went for, which is very unusual, especially if I am going for a nice piece with a commercial color, like blue.  I had decided to go for the more “unusual” colors, like yellow and orange with a green thrown in for completeness.  This is because color is still the name of the game and I have more variety in pinks and greens than the colors I bought.  I am not sure whether the dealers next pages had more material or not, but I am sure that all the tourmaline from Del Gado was presented within no more than six month.  I had one more fortunate thing happen with Del Gado tourmaline.  Soon after the first round of pages with the Del Gado material was posted, I needed a large piece of pink rough.  I inquired privately about the piece I needed and received the most wonderful large pink piece of rough with graded tone values, from Del Gado.  That ended my opportunity to buy Del Gado tourmaline rough.  I talked it over with the dealer and he was never offered more material.

Now I am going to post the pictures (that Jeff R. Smith worked hard on) of my collection’s suite of Del Gado tourmaline gemstones.   All the gemstones have moderate tone levels and great transparency.   They are all flawless and usually pushed me to cut deep gemstones, because of the shape of the rough.  I will put down a bit of information for each gemstones, but if you wish a fuller description of the individual gemstone, you can find it in the posts I have written for each gemstone.


This yellow green emerald cut weighs 11.95 carats.


This large yellow shield cut weighs 8.42 carats.


This peach, deep round cut weighs 12.32 carats.

Museum grade, graded pink emerald cut This emerald cut is as close to the perfect pink as I will ever cut. It has everything needed to set off the highly saturated (purity of color) graded pink body. It weighs a hefty 10.50 carats.

This graded pastel pink  emerald cut weighs 10.50 carats.

Large medium pastel oval from Del Gado. This is a beautiful. clean. bright gemstone, like all material from Del Gado. It is a very nice medium toned pastel yellow. It weighs 7.58 carats.

This oval yellow with stepped crown weighs 7.58 carats.

Large deep round with twelve mains, orange (yellow/rust), Del Gado This stone is exceptional and one of the finest in the collection. It has a yellow crown and a rust pavilion. It has a full set of twelve mains and has no problems. It weighs 12.95 carats.

This very deep twelve main round weighs 12.95 carats.

Spicy Dravite

The following wave of material, I believe came out of East Africa.  This is certainly a bigger area than Del Gado and the production of material is still probably occurring, but I have not been able to obtain any for years.

I think that we could call this spicy dravite.  Dravite in this discussion is a term for all brownish tourmaline.  In actuality only a small percentage of gemstone of any color are cut from the species Dravite.  Even with browns, the vast majority of gemstones is still cut from Elbaite.   Both Dravite and Elbaite are members of the group of related naturally occurring chemicals that we call minerals.  They may occur in the same geological setting or completely different ones.  In the case Dravite and Elbaite, Dravite is found in metamorphic locations, like where magma has modified existing sedimentary rock,  While Elbaite is found in the finally parts of a igneous rock to solidify, in long narrow bodies called pegmatites.  Even though they come from such different geologic worlds Dravite can not be separated from Elbaite by simple gemological testing or color as I have stated above.

Brown is not a spectral color and you will not find it in any rainbow.  But if you have a yellow, orange or red that has a low degree of saturation, they can become so mixed up with their complementary color that brown is formed.  I have found that there is a lot of confusion about saturation.  In the sense that it is being used here, saturation means the degree of color purity, not darkness.

Traditional browned yellow, orange and red does not produce tourmaline gemstones that are highly valued.  Many of them are highly dichroic and between colors darken with brown and dark dichroic ends,  dravite just didn’t make it as a commercial hit.  But then gemstones like the following pictured specimens began to come out of East Africa.  They are mostly browned/burnt oranges and they are neither too dark nor dull.  If they are dichroic, even the c axis is not too dark/closed.  So along with these dravites, with their wide range of exciting earth tones, a change in the appreciation of naturally colored gemstones has come to the market and produced a modest increase in interested in the following beauties.  I like them a lot.

Deep, extremely dichroic cream/mahogany oval. This oval is cut with both the pavilion and crown being "super nova" cuts. The added depth shows off the most extreme dichroic color difference in any brown (cream a/b axis). It weighs 12.17 carats.

This deep oval is one of the most exceptional gemstones in the collection.  You’re looking down at the c axis with its brown color, while the a/b axis at ninety degrees to the c axis is a pure very pale cream color.  It weighs 12.17 carats.

Carame,l Barion cushion a fine desert. The Barion cushion makes this caramel Dravite a sweet treat. The gemstone appears to be eye clean and with good crystal. Its medium dark tone has flash driven color. It weighs 2.72 carats.

The Barion cushion cut helps this very burnt orange/caramel colored dravite show its beauty.  it weighs 2.72 carats.

Brown emerald cut with faint flash of maroon. This is a very nice medium toned brown that will show you some maroon flashes. It is eye clean and has fine crystal. It is dichroic, but the ends of the emerald cut are not to dark. It weighs 4.54 carats.

A great brown with flashes of maroon.  It weighs 4.54 carats.

One of the larger browns in the collection, oval This oval is brown with some orange flashing around. It appears to be eye clean and with fine crystal. It weighs 7.19 carats.

A fine medium dark brown that only occasionally produces an orange flash.  It weighs 7.19 carats.

Dark toned, flash diven golden orange color, oval This dark oval with sultry golden/orange color in the flashes is eye clean. It has excellent crystal and begs for the light. It weighs 5.34 carats.

This darker oval has a rich sultry reddish orange to golden orange flash.  It does enjoy good lighting.  It weighs 5.34 carats.

The blue of Namibia

This wave of rough is more a personal availability problem than a universal lack of material, I think.  When I started getting tourmaline rough directly from Africa over 10 years ago, my principle supplier would many times have a whole page of Namibia blues for sale several times a year.  I also bought blues privately, that were never advertised on the inter net.   My buying of Namibia’s blue’s culminated in the purchase of a lot of over 10 pieces of rough.  I did not know it at the time, but the supply of Namibian blues pretty much dried up about the time of my purchase of the lot.  There have been lots of smaller material material available, but I think that the dealers I work with have been outbid for bigger rough.  I have heard reports of prices per gram of larger Namibian blue tourmaline, more suited for finish goods, that rough, in my opinion.(2013)

I feel very fortunate to have been able to obtain a nice assortment of blues from Namibia, because they are some of the finest blues in the world.  I have not been able to get an exceptionally large blue, but than many of the blues can have a tone level that is not conducive for the cutting of larger gemstones.  This is after much of it is heat treated.  since were are talking about size, which does matter in gemstones, I have to mention a great find on the smaller side of blue.  As I have said, small lots of one gram and less sized material have been available, but only a limited amount of bigger material.  Much of it is blue green or quite dark.  Well in one of the pages offering rough in the last couple of years (before 2013) was a less than 3 carats nodule of blue tourmaline from Namibia.  Now a piece of tourmaline rough that is smaller than 3 carats is getting down there, but the nodule had a good shape and I could tell that this baby had something better to offer in color.  Now none of the blues from Namibia are frosted, from being water worn, like material from Mozambique would probably be.  So a photograph can give you a better idea of the roughs quality, still you really don’t know the details until the rough arrives and is cut.  Well the standard round brilliant that was cut from that little nodule is the BEST pure blue sapphire like tourmaline in the collection.  Its tone value is ideal for the little guy and therefor ideal for me.

I have run into instability in blue Namibian tourmaline that maybe is a response to being heated.  The most frustrating problems are flaws that develop in clean material and propagate threw the crystal as you cut it.  The only hope you have of getting a flawless and sound gemstone is remove material from the facet rapidly enough to overtake the weakness before it goes all the way across the gemstone.  I have finished a few very nice blues with those running flaws that are more display stones than pieces that could be put into jewelry.  The latest and most recent lot of small, about a gram, pieces had a couple that ether fell apart of fractured badly internally (3013).  Still I am always on the prowl for Namibian blue like the following examples.

Included blue round from Namibia This bright medium dark toned standard round brilliant has a white inclusion toward the girdle. It is a pretty, smaller droplet and still has merit despite its inclusion. It weighs .48 carats.

This a beautiful shade of blue that I can still get in smaller stones.  The inclusion is toward the girdle and doesn’t significantly effect the beauty of the gemstone.  It weighs .48 carats.

Included, but a great saturated blue color round. #131 This standard round brilliant.can get attention, even with its medium dark tone value, because of its well saturated blue color. Its inclusions are a fine web of rather evenly spaced flaws. It weighs 3.64 carats and is a beautiful gemstone.

This is not the biggest or best blue that I have, but it is memorable for being very difficult to polish the table (maybe caused by the inclusions) and the blue really catches the eye.  Still it has been rejected because of its inclusion.  Something that makes me smile with my greater appreciation of a well cut, included gemstone with color.  It weighs 3.64 carats.

Excellent medium dark blue to blue green round. GEM #142 This is one of the best medium dark blue to blue green gemstones in the collection. It is a standard round brilliant that really has a presence. It weighs 4.34 carats and is a GEM, superior gemstone.

Looking for another Namibian beauty to post, this GEM (exceptional gemstone), would not let go of my eye.  It is an example of the rather large number of blues that strongly slide into blue green under my yellowish light.  I compared it with a fine chrome tourmaline I have and this gemstone has the same focused intensity, in its own blue green world, as the chrome does in pure green and that is saying a lot.  It weighs 4.34 carats.

A GEM (exceptional gem) of a blue tourmaline from Namibia.  #361 This beautiful blue tourmaline from Namibia has it all right and is a GEM of a stone. It has a medium dark tone level and weighs 3.08 carats.

This GEM was once in the eyes of my goldsmith, who knows my collection quite well.  We didn’t make a deal, but that says quite a lot about this beautiful blue emerald cut that is quite stable and a nice size to work with in jewelry.  It weighs 3.08 carats.

An excellent gemstone with great medium toned blue green color, emerald cut.  #395 This is a beautiful gemstone. It has a great medium toned, completely open, non dichroic body. No problems with flash or flaws and a great crystal. An all around great gemstone that weighs 5.22 carats.

This is an example of an island of similar blue green shades and medium tone levels that has been called Caribbean blue.  It has great properties besides having a great color.  It weighs 5.22 carats.

A bright dichroic emerald cut, GEM, from Namibia  #397 This is an outstanding gemstone. It has a bright blue color that is significantly darker tone in the ends, than the sides of this GEM. It has a good size at 5.27 carats.

This is a GEM that has an excellent medium tone value along with its great color that is richer in the ends of the emerald cut.  The bright blue is  stable under my yellowish light and daylight.  It weighs 5.27 carats.

Sea foam and other other colors from Afghanistan

Now Aghanistan has produced tourmaline long before I was born and will continue to produce beautiful tourmaline long after I am dead.  But the window that  opened up for me on the glories of tourmaline, before I ran out of resources and my source dried up, was brief.  It still was a glorious ride.

It stared by my finding a web site out of California.  The man running the site was working with a collector/ lapidary that wanted to liquidate some of his extensive collection of great Afghanistan rough he had invested in over the years.  That was not of it, the collector still had an excellent connection with a family that exported gem rough from Afghanistan and I was able to be part of a couple of big deals he made.

The biggest most important purchases I made from Afghanistan came in the wonder variety of tourmaline called “Sea Foam”.  I like to use the name for only material from Afghanistan, but I have similar colored material from other locations.  Sea foam consist of two dichroic colors, a yellower green c axis color and a bluer green a/b axis colors that need to be in the medium to lighter tone range.  The difference in tone between the completely open c axis and the a/b axis must not be extreme because it is the mixing of the two very compatible colors that helps make sea foam what it is, beautiful.  Still even well cut emerald cuts, which may be a necessity to get a decent yield from the rough, can show a great, eye clean, sea foam off well.  One of the most amazing things about a high grade sea foam is its “neon” quality.  The best sea foam can seem to glow in the dark, as the natural light decreases and the incandescent shines from across the room.  Other, similarly colored tourmaline just go dull, but that neon sea foam still glows as if it is producing light rather than  just reflecting it.

The first purchase of a sea foam crystal was right off their web page, which had many other pieces of rough besides tourmaline.   The rough crystal was large, particularly for Afghanistan and with such a large length to width ratio that I had to split it in half.  The two haves were well dimensioned to make Barion cushion cuts (The pattern was given to me by Graham) and that lead to the cutting of two exceptional gemstones, pictured below.

A wonderful, large, bright sea foam Barion cut from Afghanistan  #190 This Barion cut of sea foam color came from a large crystal and has a mate. They were from Afghanistan and everything is great about them including their cut and their size. This Barion cut weighs 11.92 carats.

This is the smaller of the two Barion cushion cuts I made from one large sea foam crystal from Afghanistan.  It weighs 11.92 carats.

Large top quality sea foam from Afghanstan, Barion Cut.  #200 This is the larger of two identical Barion cuts I made from one crystal mined in Afghanistan. It is a wonderful medium toned, sea foam stone with no problems. It weighs a prized 13.39 carats.

This is the larger of the two Barion cushion cuts I made from on large sea foam crystal from Afghanistan.  It weighs 13.39 carats.

The next distinctly great tourmaline I obtained from Afghanistan is called strawberry.  It is always found in large crystals that need to be sawed rather than the more common cobbling that is done with tourmaline.  The sawing is needed because strawberry is always included, but it has to be the ultimate in rich saturated pink in tourmaline.  The following emerald cut is the only notable example that I have.

Strawberry, an exceptional pink tourmaline from Afghanistan, emerald cut.  #197 This outstanding, medium plus tone level, pink is called strawberry in Afghanistan. Its well saturated color is excellent, but its feathers/ crystal quality place it in the emerald group, for inclusions. It weighs 4.39 carats.

The next adventure in tourmaline from Afghanistan involves a large lot of beautiful green tourmaline.  The tourmaline is moderately dichroic and has completely open ends.  The c axis is yellower than the a/b while the a/b is both somewhat paler and definitely bluer the than the c axis.  The material had been clipped clean and came in sizes large enough to cut significant stones.

The opportunity came threw my California connection.  The lot was so big that he had arranged a round robin selection process for two other investors, himself and myself.  The sales person acted as my surrogate and after determining who when first, each investor choose his preference from the pile of rough.  This went on until the complete lot was divided between all the participants.  I was helped a little by my surrogate, because he knew how I cut and that dark stones would not be too useful to me, so he suggested to the person who ran the event, to replace my darker stones with ones with a better tone level.

When I received my part of the lot, it was a great day.  I took them down to a friends and we spread out all the material while checking each piece.  It all had the wonderful properties that I presented in the first paragraph of this adventure. I was ready to cut, but there was a problem.  I am really not psychologically prepared to cut the same color material day after day, no matter how great it is and I had all my money tied up in my part of the lot.  The solution lay in selling part of my lot to my principle rough dealer out of South Africa.  Ah, those were the days.  The deal went smoothly and I even made him laugh, when I order some of the pieces he put up on his next pages.  Well he didn’t send them and I know why I tried to buy them.  At the time, you had to jump on anything interesting/good in as fast as you could or it would be sold.  So little time and great looking rough added up to grabbing an opportunity to get something different, even if it turned out to be the rough I had sent him.

The four following gemstones were all cut by me from rough that came from the lot.  I love Barion cushions, when I have two great dichroic colors to play with, if the rough is deep enough and has a good enough width to length ratio (1.33) to be cut efficiently.  There are certainly Barion cuts with different ratios, but that is my preferred one.  Fortunately the largest piece and several others fit the bill perfectly.

Large Barion Cushion cut, dichroic green. #349 The Barion cushion cut mixes the two dichroic colors of green beautifully. The gemstone appears to be eye clean and with great crystal. Its completely open and moderately toned body weighs 23.64 carats.

This is the largest piece by far that I was able to cut from my part of the lot.  At 23.64 carats it is an impressive museum quality gemstone in my opinion.  It has an ideal, medium plus tone level for such a large gemstone and is eye clean with excellent crystal.

Dichroic, green, Barion cut is a GEM. #339 This Barion cut has everything going for it, with radiant blue sides and rich grass green ends. A great cut for a great tourmaline. It weighs 11.40 carats.

This is the little brother of the largest gemstone I was able to cut from my part of the lot.  It has a lighter, medium toned body that is the result of being a smaller gemstone.  It has all the other beautiful properties of its bigger brother and is an impressive gemstone at 11.40 carats.  This a very good size for Afghanistan material since most crystals of tourmaline from there are small.

Blue green Barion cushion, beauty  #329 Fine radiating flash is dominated by blue, but there is still a lot of green in this beautiful gemstone. It has a rich tone level and appears to be eye clean. It weighs 4.65 carats.

This Barion is an example of the rough that had a bit higher tone level than the first two gemstones.  It is a fine medium plus tone level that is well suited for its 4.65 carats body, but would have been too dark for the bigger ones.  It is bluer overall than the bigger Barions above and noticeably more dichroic.  This makes the stone a bit less lively in the ends.

This is a GEM green emerald cut.  #319 This is the green tourmaline I would show the world if they did not like green tourmaline. It has everything right and the vibrant green is wonderful for Elbaite. I differentiate this green from the more saturated green power of Chrome tourmaline because they are different. I personally think that both exceptional greens are first class. This GEM weighs a fine 4.45 carats. (copper bearing tourmaline also has a great green.)

I gave this beautiful emerald cut the full treatment with three rows of step cuts on the crown and four rows of step cuts on the culet.  The stone has the lowest tone level of the group and is bright and flashy in a most exciting fashion.   It ends are completely open with the indications of dichroism being a yellower c axis and a bluer a/b axis rather than differences in tone value.  It weighs  a nice 4.45 carats.

The next adventure into tourmaline from Afghanistan was much more of a mixed bag for me.  I went for a lot consisting of pieces of bicolors that had broken apart.   The rough now consisted mostly of pastel pinks and very pale blues in about the 1 gram range.  I purchased two lots and sent some to Africa, but he was not interested, which was understandable.  It was more included than I had hope and smaller.  Still I kept most of the rough, in part because I needed some smaller work to break up the effort on the bigger pieces.  If you look over the site you will see many examples of baby/pastel pinks rounds that are slightly included,that were cut from the lots.  There are also some  very pale blues and even some blues that are so pale, that I have declared them achroite (colorless).  By looking at enough material, I was able to get one exceptional piece from the lots.  It is present below.

clean pale pink and blue emerald cut.  #681 This emerald cut is so bright and flashy that it looks like carved glistening ice. Half of the bi color is a very pale blue and the other half is a bit stronger pink. It appears to be eye clean and weighs 2.34 carats. It is the found princess of the IceT group of very pale gemstones in the collection.

This very pale bicolor was the only crystal that had not broken apart.  It is about one third very pale blue and two thirds pale pink.  It has great transparency and is eye clean, without any indication of weakness between the colors.  It started a group designation with this bicolor as its inspiration and leader.  I can them IceT and you will see many members of the select group.  I find them both interesting and pretty, specially since most people do not associated tourmaline with such pale gemstones.  It weighs 2.34 carats.

In the pink Barion cushion that is included.  #663 This smaller Barion cushion has a very nice pastel baby pink color. It is moderately included and the inclusions do effect the stones flash. Still the overall effect of the stone is one of bright, flashing, softness. It weighs 1.70 carats.

I included this Barion cushion as the best pink I was able to get out of the lot.  It is more included than all the rounds, but is still an attractive baby pink with plenty of flash,  It weighs 1.70 carats.

Pale blue, eye clean round from Afghanistan This a nice sparkling light blue round. It appears to be eye clean and with fine crystal. It came from Afghanistan and weighs .97 carats.

This pale blue standard round brilliant is one of the best stones that I got out of the lots from the blue end of the broken bicolors.  It appears to be eye clean and is a pretty gemstone  It weighs .97 carats.

pale blue to colorless included round.  #702 This very pale blue standard round brilliant is slightly included. It is still very bright and flashy. It weighs 1.22 carats.

Finally I was able to cut some standard round brilliants that were so pale that even the IceT group rejected them.  This is one of the best achroite/colorless tourmaline that I have in the collection and it is not because of its size.  There is nothing remotely gray or included in this round, that has outstanding transparency.  Tourmaline does not have the dispersion of a diamond, but this little gem is doing the best, I have seen, to be as flashy with a grade D color in a internally flawless package, as any tourmaline I  have.  It weighs 1.22 carats.  And you get more for your money with a carat tourmaline than a diamond.

The final act of my heavy involvement with purchasing Afghanistan tourmaline probably dealt with the highest grade material I have been able to get.  The opportunity came about because the Afghan connection wanted to purchase an older stash/lot of rough tourmaline that was in Afghanistan, but did not have the funds necessary for the transaction.  His American connection and mine too,  lent the Afghan the funds and when the tourmaline arrived in the USA,  the American was offered the privilege of purchasing a limited amount of rough in payment for his support.

The Afghan’s principle plan was to go to Tuscon and sell the lot wholesale.  And that is what happened from what I heard.  After private negotiations, a German group bought it for most of a half a million dollars.  Considering the tourmaline market today, that was a pretty good buy.

Now where do I fit in.  Well this is top, top, top sea foam, which means that it has that “neon” look.  It is important to have color and tone etc. off course, but a big factor in Afghan tourmaline is that bright glowing look that many associate with Paraiba.  But even though the sea foam was highly prized, the American did not want to tie up too much capital in it and so I was offered one piece of larger rough and up to something like 150 carats of smaller rough. I bought all I could.

The following four stones consist of the Barion cushion I cut from the larger piece and three of the larger gemstones I cut from the smaller rough.  They have an amazing brightness that would make you think of copper, but there is no copper in them according to my spectrometer.  Though I have seen this material literally keep glowing, with some internal light, while lesser sea foam from Afghanistan quietly darkens with the passing day. (It is best seen with a single incandescent light some distance from the stones).

Top, top quality glowing sea foam, Barion cushion cut.  #597 This is a gem. It has everything going for it including a really fine glow. It is only mildly dichroic and its color is dominated by the stronger c axis color of yellowish green. It has a medium tone value in a flawless heart. It weighs12.47 carats.

This is one of finest gemstones in the collection.  It has a great neon glow and a big enough body to show the stone’s great medium tone level flash.  The gemstone only has a modest amount of dichroism and the a/b axis is just a touch bluer than the greenish c axis.  It weighs 12.47 carats.

This example of top quality sea foam from Afghanistan is a GEM.694 The glow, color, clarity, flash and brightness are all there in this larger emerald cut., It is only mildly dichroic and the two classic shades of yellowish green and bluer green are mixed well. The overall look of the stone is more green than blue. It weighs 7.22 carats.

This is the biggest emerald cut I got from the smaller rough.  I have to admit that I like emerald cuts to show off color when everything is bright, light and eye clean.  It has a fine medium tone level and weighs 7.22 carats.

Included on the side of the crown, top grade sea foam, Barion cushion  #674 This is a beautiful gemstone. It is a Barion cushion that has the glow associated with top grade sea foam from Afghanistan. The only thing keeping this stone from being a GEM is a line of white, non reflective inclusions on the long side of the gemstone. There is only a small amount under the table and the inclusion do not effect the brilliance of the stone. It weighs 5.84 carats.

This smaller Barion cushion has all the good properties of the larger one, in a lighter, but still medium toned package.  It weighs 5.84 carats.


This eye clean emerald cut is made of top quality sea foam tourmaline from Afghanistan.  #0684 This very bright and flashy emerald cut is a GEM. It isa top quality sea foam tourmaline from Afghanistan and it has the glow you want. It is also eye clean and weighs a nice 5.76 carats.

This is another fine emerald cut from the lot.  It takes its place among the best tourmaline I have.  It weighs 5.76 carats.

Now the biggest and best wave of all.  Cuprian tourmaline from Mozambique.  Now all my posted pictures of the collection have their individual stories in their posts and with the important cuprian ones that can be pretty long winded.  So I will try to keep the history general and get to the compilation of photographs that really is the heart of this post.

Soon after 2000, I purchased my first cuprian tourmaline from Mozambique and did not know it.   In fact no one knew that these pieces of rough contained copper at the time and that continued for years.  The information I had about location was sketchy and vague, but in time it began to be focused on a dried up riverbed in Mozambique.  The material being produced was all included except for some large dark purplish red nodules that could be heated to lighten them. Up until about 2005 I was having a great time getting tourmaline with a difference at affordable prices.  There was violet and cyan and bright green tourmaline the likes of which I had never seen before.  But nearly all of them were included, which helped keep the prices own.  I obtained my first Laurellite(see posts) during this time frame, and their unique nature lead me to submitting them to be tested by the GIA.  I did not send them to be tested for copper, but in the end they became the discovery gems of copper in gem quality tourmaline from Mozambique.

Just before the cuprian nature of tourmaline became known, I had an opportunity to purchase one the rares of colors in the world of tourmaline, blue purple, and took it.  Along with it came the most exceptional blue green nodule, that is now the most outstanding paraiba like gemstone I have ever seen.  After the public coming out of cuprian tourmaline from Mozambique the opportunities to purchase cuprian rough did not immediately dry up, but the prices increased greatly.

Using money from my retirement funds rather than investing in the stock market, I hung in there.  I was able to purchase an exception cyan nodule that was both unheated and eye clean, along with another large unheated blue purple with some larger non-cuprian tourmalines.  The availability and quality of cuprian tourmaline continued to degrade while the prices approach the unaffordable.  I will included some of the later stones that I got, to increase my color spectrum even though they are generally of lesser quality.

There is one group of cuprian tourmaline that have a bit of a different history.  They are stones that were not bought as cuprian and still would not necessarily be identified as cuprian without testing.  The testing that I have done is with a spectrometer that I purchased a few years ago.  I found quite a few cuprian tourmaline that way and I will include some pictures of the best.  It was fun doing the work and I plan to investigate more fully, color in tourmaline with my spectrometer.

It is time for the pictures, but please search for more specific information on the individual gemstones, especially Laurellite, which is unique in the world of color.

Cuprian, Bright neon look, cyan, emerald cut, Mozambique  #1088 This is a beautiful gemstone and a GEM (exceptional gemstone) It has a great medium tone, well saturated, cyan blue with that neon look. It really can be outstanding. It weighs 3.36 carats.

This emerald cut was purchase long before copper was discovered.  It has been certified by the GIA as cuprian and with my spectrometer.  It has one of the best cyan colors in the collection.  It weighs 3.36 carats.

Visibly included purplish blue oval.  #554 This oval has a medium light tone and a purplish shade to its pastel blue color. It has a variety of eye visible inclusions, but none of them take much away from this cuprian tourmaline. It weighs .91 carats.

This small oval was both early and confusing.  I bought it as purple blue and it does have a slightly purplish tinge.  But my rough dealer doubter the supplier statement, that it would heat to a bright blue, because if it could, it would have already been done.  I will never heat it, but I bet the bright blue does lies beneath and no one thought of copper.  Copper verified with the spectrometer.

Eye clean, deep pavilion, lavender round.  #31 This is a beautiful gemstone in a very rare color for tourmaline. Its well saturated lavender color comes from copper and manganese. It is eye clean and has fine crystal. It weighs 6.35 carats.

This was the first real purple I purchased from the new deposit of cuprian tourmaline in Mozambique.  I cut it and sent it back to the rough dealer because he had never seen such a color in tourmaline.  No thought of copper.  Copper verified with my spectrometer.

High grade Laurellite, flawless and medium toned. This is one of the original Laurellites that I sent to the GIA to be tested. It is without problems and is my best Lauellite, a name I use for cuprian tourmaline that has a reverse alexandrite color change. It weighs about 5 carats.

This was the break threw stone.  It is a reverse Alexandrite color changer that I call Laurellite (see posts).  It is so great and different that I decided to spend my money and have is analyzed by the GIA.  They found copper, which was the first publicly announced discovery of copper in gem quality tourmaline from Mozambique.  It weighs 5.69 carats.

Big purple GEM, deep 12 main round.  #291 This is one of the great cuprian stones in the collection. It is eye clean and with fine crystal. Its color, blue purple, is its most outstanding attribute and along with great clarity makes it a first class GEM. It weighs 16.66 carats.

This is an eye clean purple tourmaline that can move me.  I got it just before copper was discovered in Mozambique.  It weighs 16.66 carats.

Rich, intense, cuprian bicolor of cyan and emerald green round.  #942 This is a GEM. It has everything a great cuprian gemstone should have. It has vivid intense cyan and emerald green colors. The green color is in the culet with the cyan in the crown. The stone has a split main pavilion and a high crown. it is both eye clean and with great crystal. It can not get much better than this and it weighs 4.54 carats.

It is a bicolor with a bit of green in the culet and the rest cyan blue.  It has the best tone level of paraiba like color.  It came with the preceding purple in the same lot just before copper was discovered in Mozambique.  It weighs 4.54 carats.

An eye clean, with great crystal, medium pink, deep round. Cuprian This round with horizontally split mains is eye clean and with fine crystal. Its color is a very nice, but not particularly hot, pink. It is cuprian and comes from Mozambique. It weighs 18.68 carats.

I bought the rough for this pink round as a practice piece for cutting the purple.  I did not know until I got my spectrometer and then had it verified by another spectrometer, that it is cuprian.  It weighs 18.68 carats.

Included, Very Bright, Non Dichroic, Medim Toned, Green, Round.  #148 This standard round brilliant has an exceptionally bright medium green color. It is included, but they are really overwhelm by the beauty of this gemstone. It weighs 6.03 carats. Cuprian.

I did not buy the green rough for this round knowing it was cuprian.  (copper had not yet been discovered in Mozambique) I suspected it later, but did not confirm it until I tested it with my spectrometer.  It weighs 6.03 carats.

A very nice light yellow, cuprian, round  #644 I discovered this yellow had copper with my spectrometer. The round stays yellow and is very bright and eye clean. It weighs 2.67 carats and is quite rare because of its copper content.

I included this round, that again as not bought as cuprian to show the wide color variation in Mozambique copper bearing tourmaline.  It weighs 2.67 carats and is a very nice medium light tone yellow.

One faint feather and beautiful reddish purple colored round.  #487 I love this stone. feather and all. This is such a great color and one reserved for cuprian tourmaline alone. The faint feather is under the table, but is a minor problem for such a nice sized, bright and flashy gemstone of such rare color. It weighs 6.07 carats.

A classic cuprian pink purple color that was bought before copper was discovered.  Now I feel that the color is so distinctive that it is a definitive test for copper bearing tourmaline from Mozambique.  I still verified its  cuprian nature with my spectrometer.  It weighs 6.07 carats.

Prized Plume, darker flash driven purplish red oval.  cuprian  #293 This large oval has a nice purplish red flash driven color. It is eye clean and with fine crystal. Its cuprian nature has been confirm with a spectrometer. It weighs 13.94 carats.

This is a dark purplish red.  I bought it because it had a bit of a different purple red look than a regular Rubellite.  It took time and two different spectrometers to verify that it is cuprian.  It weighs 13.94 carats.

Large bright cyan blue, cuprian, pear shaped GEM.  #941 This cuprian tourmaline has a fine medium toned body with plenty of flash. It is a pure cyan color without dichroism. It is eye clean and the only pear shaped gemstone in the collection. It weighs 13.90 carats and is a GEM.

This is the biggest purchase I have ever made in tourmaline.  It is eye clean and has a great high quality, medium light toned, cyan blue color.  I knew that it contained copper when I bought it (verified with my spectrometer).  It came from Mozambique and weighs 13.90 carats unheated carats.

Laurellite, cuprian, blue purple oval from Mozambique.  Included. This oval is very large at 27.13 carats. It is significantly included, but still has good brightness and flash for a moderately toned gem. Its color changes from purple to blue which is defining for Laurellite.

Another large purchase I made after copper was discovered in tourmaline from Mozambique.  It is a Laurellite and weighs 27.13 carats.

Exceptional yellow green copper bearing round.  #62 This standard round brilliant is a GEM,(exceptional gemstone) with a "neon" look that may come from its copper content. It is eye clean and has great crystal. It weighs 3.17 carats.

I found quite a few yellow greens that are cuprian with my spectrometer.  None of them I bought as cuprian.  This stone has a nice sharp color that is great on its own.    It weighs 3.27 carats.

Extremely bright, white flashing beacon of a cuprian round.  #966 Yes, my spectrometer detected copper in this gemstone and I purchased it as a blue purple cuprian. I have stared hard at this standard round brilliant many times and I think I can see a fleeting hint of blue purple sometimes, but most of the time it is one of the purest of the pure, achroite. It is definite pure and with outstanding transparency. It weighs 2.17 carats.

The rough for this round was advertised as blue purple and I had to get it .  When it came I could not see the color, but my spectrometer says that it is cuprian, with one of the prettiest absorption curves I have seen.  Goes to show you, you can not trust old eyes and copper can be seen with the spectrometer at levels that really have no effect on the gemstone.  It weighs 2.17 carats,

img_0961 sold, needs to be replaced.

I bought this knowing is was cuprian.  It is a good representative of a fine blue color that is slightly gray, but lacks the real neon glow of copper.  Still my spectrometer verified that it is cuprian.  It is also significantly included, which is typical of the material that is available to me, today, at a higher cost.  This Barion cut weighs 10.47 carats.

Moderately included cuprian Laurellite, round.  #999 I love this gemstone in ways no one else can appreciate. When some tourmaline from Mozambique was found to have copper, as a chromophore, the prices of the material escalated quickly. Also the availability of quality material decreased rapidly, I went with the flow and kept buying colors that I liked, included or not. The rough for this beautiful round, to me, was a mess. But it was big enough that I could manage to get a very nice bright, relatively clean, Laurellite round out of it. I lost a lot of material, but the discovery that it was a Laurellite, reverse Alexandrite color changer, was certainly enough to placate me. I particularly like it's medium tone level and that the inclusions don't flash.

My final presentation is a fun stone that I knew was cuprian when I bought it.  It is significantly included, but has a medium light, open spirited look that is both a Laurellite and a fine pastel blue purple in mixed light.  It weighs 4.28 carats.

So that wraps of a brief over view of the waves of rough in my cutting life.  There have been some riptides, but they are best handled at the individual stone level.  I hope that you enjoyed the ride and please email me if you have any questions.


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 Cutting Tourmaline, Introduction, Personal Stories and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

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