Tourmaline has emerged as a popular gemstone in recent years thanks to its wide array of color offerings, its accessible price point relative to sapphires, and its high availability in comparison to other colorful gems like spinel and garnet.
Pink tourmalines in particular are having a moment right now in the US, complementing the bright- and pastel-pink creations of global fashion houses. Sweta Jain, the force behind New York-based jeweler Goshwara, has seen demand for this hue go up since last year.
So has designer Sylva Yepremian of Sylva & Cie, who recently began adding tourmalines to her collections — “especially in pink,” she says. These stones “allow me to offer larger pieces at somewhat better price points than pink sapphires,” especially “in matched pairs for statement earrings, for example.”
Tourmaline is beloved not only for offering designers a comprehensive color palette, but also for its durability and color zoning, which provide opportunities to experiment.
“The majority of my tourmalines allow me to create one-of-a-kind pieces,” says Jain. “Their hardness allows me to carve them, and because of the large rough sizes, I can create bold looks.”
Designer Paula Crevoshay also loves tourmalines. She and her late husband worked with the Stewart Lithia mine in southern California during the 1980s. “I was offered the best in the top quality before anyone else, which I recently began utilizing. I have made beautiful bracelets that I’ve called my Mosaic bracelets, and designed rings and earrings. Because of its durability, [tourmaline is] one of the best stones for just about any jewelry in style.”
From left: Paula Crevoshay ring in 18-karat yellow gold with a 19.50-carat rubellite tourmaline and diamonds; tourmaline necklace by Goshwara.
Brazil has been the premium origin for tourmalines of all types. Despite the discovery of new sources in Africa for fine-quality stones, the reduced supply of top-grade Brazilian material has only increased its value.
Brazilian designer Silvia Furmanovich has been employing tourmalines in her creations for over 20 years. “We have unique colors in Brazil, which are more faithful and don’t change with the light source,” she says. “Our partnership with the Cruzeiro mine, which is the biggest tourmaline mine in the world, enables us to provide mine-to-market traceability and choice material.” Color-wise, she has a soft spot for Paraiba, watermelon and chrome (green) tourmalines, and has enjoyed pairing indicolite (blue) tourmaline with the mosaic hues of opals.
The prestige of Paraiba
The biggest challenge that industry players are facing post-pandemic is not demand, but finding consistent supply. As collectors educate themselves, they seek precious stones that have been appreciating and will continue to hold value over time. Many such collectors consider top-quality Paraiba tourmalines as important as rubies, emeralds, sapphires and spinels.
Bayco Jewels — a purveyor of pieces featuring primarily diamonds and the Big Three — has “been getting more requests for Paraiba tourmalines from Brazil over the last five years,” reports creative director Marco Hadjibay. “Due to their rarity, the top-quality [specimens have] doubled in price during this time period, especially in larger sizes.” Clean stones of about 10 carats are selling for as much as $25,000 per carat, versus $12,000 before the pandemic, industry sources confirm.
Furmanovich has seen Paraiba and rubellite — aka red tourmalines — reach new heights of popularity in the last 10 years. Although rubellites may not yet have hit Paraiba’s premier status, those with intense red hues are commanding previously unseen prices; fine-quality goods go for about $1,000 per carat. The next wave will entail a rise in demand for green tourmalines, her team predicts.
Main image: One-of-a-kind Pomellato necklace in 18-karat gold with diamonds and a 58-carat raspberry tourmaline. (Pomellato)