Measuring and passing on information about color in tourmaline.

Today I sat down with some trays of tourmaline and access to a gemstone color matching system.  The system certain showed that a great deal of work had been done to present color in different cuts, tones, saturation besides just hues/colors.  And it certainly helped me get some of my purples reds and greens etc. in the right color category, but I had some problems.  While looking at the pastel side of the system,  I had much more difficulty matching stones to the system’s presentation, than richly colored tourmaline.  Most of the columns that varied in tone only just looked like they got darker without any color in any of the depicted gemstones.

I think that part of my problem revolves around the lack of color calibration and correction for my inexpensive flat screen monitor.  Sometime ago I looked at the exclusive collection of broad hue and high saturation liquid crystal monitor’s.  The top of the line used individual LED’s of different colors behind the appropriate liquid crystal cell to enhance the vividness of the liquid crystal display in an attempt to match the extreme light properties of items like gemstones.   The monitor produced so much heat that it had to have cooling fins on it.  All this was interesting, but the real bottom line was the price which precluded my going forward with an effort to record the “true” color of my tourmaline and print it out.

I did spend my money on a solid state spectrometer as I have mentioned before.  I have it up and going with a new light source and I hope to get some reasonable data soon.  I am much more inclined to let the instrument analyzed the stones color and define it in the CIE color world with a vector and an appropriate hue angle than use my old yellowish eyes to see my beautiful tourmaline’s true color.  I am just no match for that kind of work with color and tone etc.

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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