Tourmalines are the most colourful gemstone group. They occur in all variations, green, red, blue, yellow, colourless, black … and some come in two or more colours at once. There is no other gemstone group whose diversity of colour exceeds that of the tourmalines, but the colours do not occur with equal frequency and they are not all equally well known. The best known are the green tourmaline and the pink or red rubellite. By contrast, a tourmaline which is pure blue is a rare thing indeed. Mostly, the blue colour has a more or less noticeable touch of green.
Pure blue tourmalines are much coveted on account of their beauty and rarity. In fine qualities, blue tourmalines are almost always one-offs. They are also highly esteemed by collectors. They are at their most valuable when they show an intense, clear, radiant blue which is not too dark, the kind of blue that puts one in mind of an aquamarine or a beautiful sapphire. The pure blue of the tourmaline radiates harmony. Perhaps it is for that reason that the gemstone therapists claim that a blue tourmaline makes people both honest and tolerant.
These rare blue gemstones originate mostly in the classical country of tourmalines, Brazil, or, to put it more exactly, in the north of Brazil, where the magnificent turquoise Paraiba tourmalines were also discovered. However, they are also found today in the gemstone mines of Namibia, Afghanistan and Pakistan and, since recently, also in those of Nigeria.
Sometimes, the gemstone specialists refer to the blue tourmaline as an ‘indigolith’ (‘blue stone’). As a rule, however, blue tourmaline is the term used.
Cutting tourmalines requires a good deal of patience and plenty of experience too. Few lapidaries know their way around all the peculiarities of this gemstone and have sufficient knowledge of its extraordinarily complex structure to enable them to cut ‘difficult’ tourmalines as well. There are often areas of tension on the inside of a tourmaline, which can easily cause the stone to crack when it is being worked on. The cutter merely has to hold a critical tourmaline the wrong way against his cutting-wheel once to end up with a completely ruined, valueless stone. During the cutting process, he must also pay heed to the tourmaline’s well developed dichroism (two-colouredness). In the raw crystal, he has to orientate the table surface in such a way as to achieve the best possible colour and the best possible weight, while attempting as far as possible to keep out the less beautiful, darker colour.
Once the tourmaline has survived the tough cutting process, it is, with its good hardness (7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale), a relatively robust gemstone which is easy to look after. This is true of all tourmalines including the blue ones. So if you are lucky enough to come across a blue tourmaline, don’t hesitate! The pleasure you derive from this beautiful and rare gemstone will be long-lasting.