- © 2011 by the Mineralogical Society of America
With their multitude of colors, gem tourmalines are among the most popular colored gemstones. Spectacular color-zoned tourmalines are valued as gems and crystal specimens, and some complexly zoned crystals contain nearly the entire spectrum of color variation found in the mineral world. The top-quality “neon” blue-to-green, copper-bearing tourmaline, the Paraíba-type, is one of the highest-priced colored gemstones, with values comparable to those of some diamonds. The wide variety and intensity of colors are related primarily to color-producing ions in the structure and to exposure to natural radiation. Gem tourmalines that form in magmatic, pegmatitic environments are most commonly elbaite and fluor-liddicoatite species, and the rarer gem tourmalines that develop in metamorphic rocks are generally dravite–uvite species.