By Ann Covode
October has two birthstones: Tourmaline and Opal. Tourmaline is a favorite gemstone for many because it’s available in a rainbow of beautiful colors. Tourmaline’s spectrum also includes dual hues in a crystal or cut stone, called bi-colored gems. Tourmaline, meaning “mixed colored stones”, was derived from the Singhalese word “turmali”. A new turn came for tourmalines in 1989, after Heitor Dimas Barbosa had spent years digging in the hills of the Brazilian state of Paraiba, when he and his team hit the jackpot and found the most stunningly vivid stones ever seen. These astonishing bright turquoise color gems became known as Paraiba tourmalines.
A Tourmaline is an extremely complex borosilicate that occurs in more than a hundred colors. Its toughness and durability make it very well suited for jewelry. Tourmalines were imported by the Dutch into Europe from Ceylon in the early 1700’s. They became very popular and were declared a stone of the Muses, inspiring and enriching the creative processes and favored by artists and writers. Lore says that Tourmaline aids against misfortune and protects travelers against falls. But until 1989 no one had owned a tourmaline as dazzling as Barbosa’s Paraiba tourmalines. In addition to their starling incandescent hues, these gems were incredibly rare. Only one Paraiba tourmaline is mined for every 10,000 diamonds. Consequently, the value of Paraiba tourmalines continues to soar.
In 2003, a new wave of outstanding green-blue tourmalines was unearthed. Mined from the mountains of Nigeria and Mozambique they are very similar to the Paraiba tourmalines from Brazil, with only minute chemical differences. By 2006 it was clear that since Pariaba-like tourmalines were being mined in other parts of the world, the LMHC agreed that ‘Paraiba’ should refer to a variety of tourmaline, and not its geiographic origin. Therefore the term ‘Paraiba tourmaline’ now refers to gems found in Brazil, Nigeria and Mozambique. Their common factor being the stunning quality and saturation of their blue-green color.
Because of the Paraiba’s high value, they are almost always custom cut and usually faceted into round, oval and pear cuts. Not surprisingly, in just a few decades, Paraiba tourmalines have become one of the most sought-after gemstones in the world, incomparable to any other gem.
Finding warmth in this stunning tourmaline, Eve has created the spectacular “Interchange IV” engagement ring. Several years ago she discovered the famous Paraiba tourmalines from Brazil and set them in this ring. These tourmalines are now highly sought after and found in the house of Cartier as well as other famous jewelry houses. The teal indicolite tourmaline warms the 113 diamonds surrounding it as though it is melting the ice. “In this society where everyone is on their cell phone, this is a reminder that there is warmth amid the cold atmosphere” states Eve. $12,400
Eve has also been inspired by underwater mysteries. Her “Triton’s Ball” necklace is a joyful gathering of seahorses. This celebration features rare two and three colored tourmalines and seahorses bound together. “Seahorses mate for life and these bi-color tourmalines symbolize a union or marriage” states Eve.
“Triton’s Ball” necklace is an underwater treasure created by Eve Alfillé; 18 karat green gold double seahorses punctuated by a matched suite of bi- & tri-color pink, violet and teal tourmalines totalling 20.49 carats. Four faceted kite-shape oro verde quartz totaling 11.19 carats are interspersed throughout the tourmalines to create a shimmering underwater look. The back has four single seahorses and an integrated double seahorse curly-hook clasp. In front, another matching 10 carat pink-violet bi-color tourmaline is suspended and removable to vary the look from dazzling casual to spectacular elegant wear! 16″ length, extremely comfortable and wearable, this necklace is an absolute treasure! What could be more romantic? $15,200
Yancey Hughes photography.
Tourmaline is the Anniversary Stone for the eighth wedding celebration. Any of Tourmaline’s many colors are a beautiful and appropriate alternative for October birthdays.