Pink Tourmaline Gemstones

Pink Tourmaline, Nigeria
Pink Tourmaline Heart
Nigeria

For lovers of pink gems, there is no gemstone variety which provides as many choices as pink tourmaline. The range of pink hues seems limitless; indeed tourmaline is truly an education in pink and all its variations.

While pink gems have been an important fashion trend in recent years, the fascination with pink tourmaline goes back to the earliest days of tourmaline mining in California. The Empress Dowager Tzu-hsi (1835-1908), the last Empress of China, was obsessed with pink tourmaline, and bought virtually the entire production of gem quality material from the mines in San Diego County during the last years of her life. Working through Tiffany & Co., the Imperial Chinese government imported more than 120 tons of gem quality tourmaline rough from California between 1902 and 1910, mainly for carvings. When the empress died in 1908, she was laid to rest with her head resting on a carved pink tourmaline pillow.

When the Imperial Chinese government collapsed in 1912, it also meant the end of the tourmaline boom in the USA. But with the marketing support of Tiffany & Co. and their chief gemologist, George Frederick Kunz, tourmaline eventually became established as one of the leading semi-precious gems.

Pink Tourmaline, Nigeria Bi-Color Tourmaline, Nigeria
Fine Pink Tourmalines from Nigeria

In addition to its wide range of hues, one of the attractions of pink tourmaline is that it can be found in large sizes. Fine quality stones over 5 carats are common, and 10 carat pieces can be found. Most of the high quality material is eye clean, though the magenta-colored rubellite tends to have significant inclusions. Usually pink tourmaline is untreated, but some stones may be heated at low temperature to lighten the color.

After the American tourmaline mines were mainly worked out, Brazil became the largest producer of high quality tourmaline. Today the focus has shifted to Africa, where fine pinks have been found in Nigeria in West Africa and Mozambique in East Africa. Chrome tourmaline in limited quantities has been mined in Tanzania while some interesting yellow tourmaline has been found in Zambia. The other tourmaline producer of some importance is Afghanistan, which is known especially for its blue green tourmaline.

 

See our collection of Fine Pink Tourmaline and Rubellite Tourmaline

 
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