Sea Foam, the neon look, Afghanistan and Paraiba like from Mozambique

The events in the following post really happen yesterday (01/003/2014.  The point of the post has been brought up many times, but I still think it needs to be reinforced because it could cost you money.

I have cut a number of high quality sea foam tourmaline from Afghanistan and high quality paraiba like cuprian from Mozambique, but I really did not expect to see the “glow of neon” in the small piece of sea foam I got from a friend.  I had sacrificed a significant amount of weight to cut a round, who’s table was perpendicular to the principle axis because the crystal’s a/b color was very pale.  Still it was both exciting and motivating to see the old glow appear as I was polishing the pavilion. (It is difficult to see the neon effect in rough and it can not be photographed.)

When I finally finished, the less than a carat standard round brilliant,  I knew I had a winner.  It was of medium light tone level and had that wonder purity of crystal that many Afghan tourmaline’s have.  I immediately compared it with comparably sized oval, I finish a few weeks ago, that is paraiba like and came from Mozambique.  The sea foam won in the neon category, even if it was a less desirable, greener color.  The paraiba like oval is not flawed, but its crystal does not begin to match the sea foam tourmaline’s brilliance.

Now my friend and photographer Jeff enters the stage and is looking over my most recently finished gemstones.  He gets excited when he finds the little sea foam round and asks, Is this cuprian?.  I enjoy the enthusiasm and support it, but no, it is not cuprian, but it certainly does have the neon look.  Now Jeff begins to sputter and I can see that it is hard for him to accept, what I have said.  So I go into the other room and dig out one of my best paraiba like gems from Mozambique.  I put it down next to the little sea foam.  Now it is bigger and richer in tone (similar color), but that does not explain the difference in the “glow”.    The copper bearing, paraiba like, cuprian tourmaline jumps out at you while the sea foam quietly cooks on the back burner.  This does not diminish the little round sea foam.  It is a great stone, but it is not in the same ball game with top quality copper bearing tourmaline.  Jeff could do nothing, but agree with the following statements.

If you have never seen high quality Paraiba/paraiba like/cuprian tourmaline in person you are missing a rare and beautiful show.  Color is not the key to the uniqueness or exception beauty of high quality Paraiba/paraiba like tourmaline.  Iron produces exactly the same color with a significant amount of glow, like the sea foam.  But as Jeff learned again, the glow is just not on the same order of magnitude.  I keep putting in high quality before Paraiba and paraiba like tourmaline, because there are many examples of copper bearing  tourmaline that do NOT have the neon glow, but the right color.


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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