Purple Oval of Copper Bearing Beauty#959

Nice medium purple oval that contains copper This bright flashy oval is a nice medium purple. It has a simple stepped crown and weighs 1.63 carats. It came from Mozambique. #959


I love this stone, I love purple in tourmaline, I love copper bearing tourmaline and I love getting a nice stone for a decent price.

I consider this medium shade of purple to be only found in copper containing tourmaline (Elbaite).  All my examples come from Mozambique, but I have read that there were many purple tourmaline found in the Paraiba deposit and that they were practically obliterated by heating the rough to cyan blue (or at least attempting to attain the color goal).  I don’t have tourmaline heat treated and I hope all my purples are never heat treated.  I also don’t think that there is enough copper in this gemstone to make a very rich blue and since it is not clean, there is a strong possibility of damaging the gemstone by heating.  Paraiba material is generally quite included, either from natural forces or heating by man.

Now for some background for this gemstone.  After the public discovery of copper in tourmaline, in a gemstone I supplied the GIA for testing, from Mozambique and its subsequent appearance on the world’s stage,  the price of cuprian rough took off.  My supplier was still able to get quality material from the native miners and I still had material to cut, at first.   But as the politics and economics became more complex, high quality material was no longer available, locally. The rough that I cut this beauty from was purchase in the third phase (the first phase was before the discovery of copper) of the availability of cuprian rough, when only material that was significantly included was either available or affordable to me.

The specific piece of rough was a completely water worn pebble, as is all cuprian tourmaline rough from Mozambique.  It was not shattered and did not have major veils.  Still it was classified as low grade because of numerous inclusions.  Seeing inside a completely frosted pebble is not easy and I don’t go threw the effort to really analyze the subtle points of a pebble like this before I start removing material that obviously can not be incorporated into a gemstone of quality.  As I remove material, I sort of go with the flow and pretty soon it becomes clear to me, where I am going in my effort to make a simple traditionally shaped gemstone, in most cases.  I do not remove all inclusion completely from a preform to prevent over cutting.  I can adjust the nascent gemstone dimensions much easier and accurately, when it is being faceted.  As I ground away the waste on this piece of rough, the inclusion began to part and a really decently clean center became apparent.  My pulse quickened and now I needed to do the most critical step in preforming this rough, locating the table facet.  I work very hard to minimize distracting flash from inclusion, when the finished gemstone is looked at face-up threw the table.  If I can just get that distracting inclusion out from under the table a war has been won.  The percentage or retained weight(yield) is seldom good after a war like that, but it is not my principle concern in most cases.

Why have I gone so far in explaining the background and work on a rather small oval of 1.63 carat?  It is not just because it is a beautiful shade of purple with a bright flashing demeanor.  No, it because I won the war and with a color that will always be special to me.  My quest to fill the color wheel came a little bit closer to the truth that tourmaline comes in all colors.





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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