Laurellite, a rare one and getting rarer, cuprian tourmaline

I have been out on the internet again and reading about “rare” to incredibly “rare” gemstones.  There seems to be two assumptions made that are amazing.  One example is that all ruby that comes from Burma is high quality material, which is ridiculous.  All deposit produce low grade material, that some like to call “fish gravel”.  The other assumption is that a gemstone that had been found only a few times, mixed in with other rough or cut stones, is even looked for in the piles of washed-out and nondescript material in which it might be found. There is also an addendum, that a gemstone,like Tanzanite, that has come from only one geographic location must be rare.  How wrong that is always makes me smile. And the list never includes “Laurellite”, a name that I have given to a reverse alexandrite color change cuprian tourmaline that I obtained from Mozambique and analyzed by the GIA.

Now I have written a lot about Laurellite on this site so I won’t go into any physical details about it, but when it come to rarity, it should be on some kind of gemstone list.  Let me count the ways.

1,  Laurellite is only a small and unknown percentage of cuprian tourmaline from Mozambique.   And quality cuprian tourmaline is a rare gemstone to begin with.

2,  Laurellite has only been found from one deposit, not only in Mozambique, but the world.

3,  Laurellite is being heated to produce paraiba like tourmaline with that neon cyan color.  Imagine a rare, unique gemstone being heated to produce a much more common, but highly desired gemstone.

4,  Laurellite has a reverse alexandrite color change  that is unique in the world of gemstones.  A property that is important enough to demand a reevaluation of the scientific bases for color change in tourmaline.  This is certainly a rarity point when it comes to all the gemstones out there, even if it does not make the absolute number of Laurellites a small.

5,  My last point probably should not be a point about rarity, but I think it should be considered when you talk about which materials should be called gemstones.  The suitability of the material to be called a gemstone.  Laurellite is a genuine, viable, gemstones that does not dissolve in water, shatter at the slightest touch or decompose in sunlight like some materials people have faceted.  It has a beauty that deserves to be conserved and ignorance and greed are destroying it.  When should it be put on the endangered list for the end of production in Mozambique has probably come, rather than just the projection of the end, like Tanzanite.  Please spread the word about Laurellite, for some of it  deserves to be saved and take its rightful place on the list of the rarest gemstones in the world.





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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