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Green Tourmaline

In 1912 the National Association of Jewelers overhauled the birthstone list for the American market. Among the changes the group made was the selection for October. Beryl, which had for centuries been the month’s most widely accepted representative, was out, tourmaline was in.

At the time, some believed commercialism was behind the jewelers’ decision. Yet we would wager the jewelers’ group was prompted in its choice by nationalism as well. From a standpoint of quality, and perhaps quantity, America was then the pre-eminent producer of tourmaline: not just California pinks but also Maine greens. And given the fact that green and golden beryl was what was replaced, we would venture to say that Maine was uppermost in the jewelers’ minds. One look at a fine apple-green Maine stone explains why.

Sorry to say, that New England state is no longer producing to any significant degree. But the color associated with Maine can be found in stones from other localities. Indeed, tourmalines that ape the best color of just about every coveted green gem -- from emerald to tsavorite -- are found today. And they often cost a fraction of the gems for which they stand in.

East African Wonders

To many collectors, green tourmaline is synonymous with dark olive stones, usually from Brazil. If that’s your mental image of green tourmaline, you are out of touch with the major finds of this gem during the past two decades.

The most spectacular greens have been discovered at the Paraiba mine in Brazil and in East Africa. These tourmalines have set new standards for value, commanding prices never before reached by this gem: five or even six figures per carat.

Paraiba tourmalines are most celebrated for the unusual teal and greenish blues that are unique in the gem world. What is sometimes overlooked is that the Paraiba mine also produces pure and lively green stones, a green that rivals tsavorite or even emerald.
Saturated green tourmalines from Tanzania that are colored by chromium, the same coloring agent as emerald, are another premium green. Chrome tourmaline has a rich darker green color, sometimes tinged with blue. Although these chrome tourmalines don’t reach the stratospheric levels of Paraiba prices, they are the next most-valued type of tourmaline.

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Green Tourmaline