Watermelon tourmalines classically mimic the fruit, with their juicy fruit and rind; bright pink in the middle, green on the outside. However, they come in so many different colours, representing the full spectrum of tourmaline’s impressive colour range. In fact tourmaline’s original name was ‘turamali’ which means ‘mixed colours’. It’s quite simply one of my favourite stones, but maybe not the easiest to set; it’s not always easy to find pairs and the profiles are often very uneven and bockety.
Tourmaline grows in pegmatites – veins that run through rocks created by molten magma from volcanoes. As the magma cools, cracks form which fill with a solution of water and minerals such as iron, lithium or manganese. Over thousands of years, these turn into tourmaline crystals, and it is depending on which of these minerals is present that determines the colour. So how do you end up with more than one colour in the same stone? This happens when the trace elements change in concentration or composition during a crystal’s growth. This can result in a core of one colour and bands of different colours, or zones across the length of the crystal. A single tourmaline crystal can contain up to 15 different colours. Tourmaline is the birthstone for October and I always think that is so lucky, as you have such a huge choice of colours. It is said to be particularly beneficial to artists and those in creative fields.
Watermelon tourmaline lends itself wonderfully to carvings – in particular butterfly wings and leaves look great, but arguably the best way to display it is quite simply, in slices, to show off its saturated juiciness to full effect. Although it can be prong-set, I love to see these slices in bezels. I always think of India Mahon as the absolute queen of tourmaline, and I also especially love Sarah Walker’s classic settings below. I haven’t seen slices set like this very often and I really like it. Links and titles on each photo.
I have a range of quality watermelon tourmaline slices, to take a look, click here
Or parti-coloured tourmaline, to give it its correct title. Not, as my slightly po-faced GIA instructor said, as in, ‘let’s have a party.’ That may have been a joke. It was slightly hard to tell. New in stock, I have more pieces of this most beautiful and fascinating of stones in a breathtaking array of colours. I have new slices and some rose cut (polki) pieces, and each piece has been hand-selected by me for either its pattern – complex or simple, its colour – unusual or gorgeous, its unusual combinations of colours, or it’s saturation – saturated or subtle. The green and orange polki, top left, or the teal green surrounded by black slice towards the top right; the pale pink and blue polkis, of which I have several, and blue is always a popular colour that goes fast.
Clarity of these stones can be rather mixed, but most of these are not bad and many have the kind of clarity characteristics that I think are rather beautiful; for instance you can see mirror-like inclusions on several of the stones, which sparkle as the light catches them with a spectral flash. Tourmaline crystals are very distinctive; broadly triangular in shape with striations down the sides and the colour zoning is due to a change in the concentration or composition of the trace elements that give the stone its colour during its growth. Iron, titanium and manganese induce different colours and yet others might be due to colour centres caused by radiation. To shop watermelon slices, click here; to shop freeform rose cuts (polki), click here.
So many gorgeous examples of watermelon tourmaline jewellery around, but if I had to pick out one I have long coveted Barbara Heinrich Studio’s watermelon tourmaline slice necklace. This also has hand-fabricated 18k gold shell elements and gold tube spacers. Love those gold shells, echoing the shape of the tourmaline slices, and love the matched-but-not-matched slices.