The Drama of Cutting a Beautiful Tourmaline.

Neon cyan blue, cuprian GEM.  #525

I wrote the following story soon after finishing one of my early cuprian/paraiba type tourmalines from Mozambique. The year was 2002 and no one had publicly announced the discovery of cuprian tourmaline in Mozambique. That was to come three years later when the GIA finally published a lab note in G and G on the cuprian reverse alexandrite color changer I had supplied them. I have come to call the new species Laurellite, which you can read a great deal about on this site.

I wrote the dramatization to Brian Norton, who supplied the rough. I knew it was an exceptional piece of cyan colored tourmaline rough when I got it, but it really takes completing the gemstone to fully realize its glow like qualities. I was tempted to send similar stones to the GIA, but could not believe my “luck” in finding copper where so many people had failed. It was only when Laurellite came into my world that I know I really had something, no one had seen before or at least not reported before. Even then finding copper was not the object of sending in such a unique tourmaline to be tested.


A Neon To Light Up Your Life.
August 2002
By Bruce A. Fry

Sometimes in the life of a reporter a story is found that must be presented in the words of the characters that lived it. The following story is one of those stories. It is not a story about the average or mundane, but an inspiration to all those who will follow and make the choices of life.

Cutter’s comments

I checked the web and the list was up. This was a time for action. The choice were ready to be chosen and speed was essential in catching those who caught my eye. One tourmaline, among other beautiful stones, did sing to me in a clear voice. My needs for her would not come cheap, but I was seduced by her neon smile. Other desired her, but I was first and the long trip to Mars began. When she arrived, her neon smile was as radiant as I hope for, but her shape was a little ungainly. Her past masters had cut her in two perpendicular directions and ground her derriere into a flatten fan. I thought about her vaguely triangular shape and tried to mentally shape her into the kind of tourmaline that every man would desire. Her ambivalent nature precluded an easy answer and she was put aside.

Her story

I was pretty before there was man. I had been a privileged section of the mother and I withstood the stress of creation without my pure heart breaking. Color was not part of my world, which was deep inside the earth. The earth changed and I moved into the river of rock that is affected the winds and waters of the world. I still hid myself, even as the mother shed her children and disappeared. Still man had not risen from the swamp and I waited. It is not hard to wait, for time has no meaning without change and there was very little change in my world. Finally the flash of finding was upon me and color entered my world. I never found out what color I was when man found me and I get a little heated over the subject, but I soon had the neon smile you see today. But I still wore a gown of flaws that had to be stripped from my pure heart. Grinding and sawing were delicately danced and after being dopped I awaited my future in silence. My trip to creation was like returning to my beginning and I tried to be patient.

Cutter’s comments

A trilliant, a fan shape, and emerald or even a round crossed my mind. Which shape should she wear for eternity. Yield is one thing, but the fan was too strange for my old heart. I am cutting stones for my signature bracelet so maybe I should just cut her into a 6mm round, but would I have any other stone stone to match and compliment her cyan color. Besides I did not want to sacrifice her in any way for a calibrated size. The trilliant was the leading choice for sometime. I had gotten pretty good with the cut, but her cut sides were straight and I would have to make a true triangular shape to get a good yeild. I even tested a traditional triangular cut with beveled tips, but the finished stone just did not satisfy me. Finally the emerald cut’s sweet knowing smile drifted into my mind and I checked out the numbers. Her girth and depth were good, but in the previous grinding out of flaws, one corner was left with very little material. Also looking deeply into her essences had also ruled out both the triangular and fan cuts. An emerald cut she shall be. A find old brand of cut with color and body.

Her story

No one likes to be pushed around, but I could tell he was being very careful. There was not a single time where my gentle self was hard pressed or made to endure a prolong grind. He kept jumping from one of my facets to another, never seeming to complete any of them. He even put my soul’s window, the table, where no man had touched me before. I could sense his changing waves of emotion, both ascending and crashing into despair. I never fought him, for I found his offering of a brilliant future enticing. Could he bring it off and not fritter away the essence of my beauty, for size is important for my compete satisfaction.

Cutter’s comments

I ground the table on the natural side of the rough rather than use the nascent table that had been produced by grinding out flaws. I felt that the stone had enough total depth to make an emerald cut and the need to have a level girdle was more pressing than the depth of the pavilion. When I roughed in the girdle with a pretty fine lap, I measured exactly 8mm by 6.1 mm. I would have to remove a small amount of material in fine sanding the girdle, but I had made the size, if I could just make the one corner. I had used my standard set of pavilion angles (40,47 and 55)and could reduce the difference between them, but I did not want to make the pavilion flatter. I continued to shape the rough with finer cuts and kept the angles. I could see that I still had a good thickness for the crown and did not want to waste it making the girdle too low on the stone. I planned contingency plans, in case I did not make the corner. Making a shorter non-calibrated emerald cut was my first choice, but it would be a loss in precious beauty and a disappointment. Beside I think I can make the corner.

Her story,

Everyone is envious of my beauty and I will do my best to bring the look of love into the eyes of man for as long as I can. The cutter is off on another voyage, but he will always hold a dear place in my heart. My final measurements are: weight 1.87 carats, size 7.97mm by 6.09m, calibrated for liberation. Pavilion angles are 40 degree culet with two more steps of 47 degrees and 55 degrees and my crown angels are one row of 42 degrees and one row of 25 degrees with about a 50 per cent table. My final weight represents a 37 per cent yield.


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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