Spectrometer and color in tourmaline.

Over 5 years ago I purchased a compact soilid state spectrometer. I tested all of my collection of tourmaline for copper and it was great fun. I found a significant number of cuprian tourmaline in my collection that I did not buy as cuprian. This was particularly true with yellow green tourmaline.

After finishing that round of investigation I traveled some with the instrument. It does not take long to set up and test gemstones. And the results are pretty easy to figure out. Well I wanted to do some color work with software supplied by the vendor. I was set back when the instrument turned out to be unstable and rather than just fix the electrical problem, I had the unit upgraded.

After a significant amount of money and two years, The spectrometer is ready to do color work and test for copper again. I am just waiting for my light source to be upgraded. I plan to post my data, graphs, on this site and explain what you are seeing to the best of my ability. I plan to run absortion curves for known cuprian tourmaline and the few hundred stones I have cut since the spectrometer was operational. I will also be posting color information, in graph form, for tourmaline of interest.

What do I hope to see? Well with the exceptional range of color in the collection I hope to see color that the labs do not see because of its rarity or low cost. Going further I hope to show that many Paraiba/paraiba type/cuprian tourmaline color is NOT unique to copper bearing tourmaline. In other words copper bearing tourmaline’s exceptioan appeal comes from its vividness and bright moderate saturation (glow like qualities) not from unique colors.

Please stop back and enjoy the quest that should start with in a few weeks.


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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