Lagoon tourmalines are indicolites or verdelites that have a colour hue that resembles the stunning green/blue tones of a tropical lagoon. Colours can range from open greens with a hint of blue to the almost Paraiba-like electric blue tones. What sets them apart from actual Paraiba tourmalines is the fact that they don’t owe their colour to Copper & Manganese but are almost always coloured by Iron ions.
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TOURMALINE
These rare tourmalines have been found in small quantities all over the world. Some of the most noteworthy finds are Brazil, Afghanistan & African countries such as Namibia, Mozambique, The Congo and Nigeria. Of these locations the finest Lagoon tourmalines have come from the Usakos region of Namibia, however they are rarer than gemstones from some of the other localities.
Throughout history, tourmaline has been mistaken for various gemstones due to its wide range of colours and optical effects.
Black tourmaline may have been referred to by different names like "schorl" as early as 1400. The village that gave rise to the name is “Zschorlau”, which is located in Saxony, Germany and was close to a mine that contained reserves of black tourmaline. Tourmaline from Sri Lanka was also brought into Europe by the Dutch East India Company after which is was eventually discovered to belong to the same mineral group as the German Schorls.
A Spanish conquistador discovered green tourmaline in Brazil in the 1500s, mistaking it for emerald. His mistake persisted until the 1800s, when tourmaline was eventually recognised as a distinct mineral species belonging to the Tourmaline family by mineralogists.
The gemstone experienced a surge in popularity due to American tourmaline deposits. When mineralogist George Kunz supplied Tiffany & Co. with green tourmaline from Maine in 1876, it set off a trend.
Early in the 1890s, tourmaline was also discovered in California where it has been found that Native Americans used specific hues of tourmaline as funeral gifts for centuries.
News spread fast and China quickly became the largest market for tourmaline at that time. Pink tourmaline was a special favourite of the Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi, which was evident by the fact that she purchased almost everything that was discovered in the San Diego County deposits. The Chinese market was so critical to tourmaline, that when the Chinese government collapsed in 1912, it took the tourmaline trade down with it. Tourmaline eventually regained its popularity when a new rare variety was found in the small state of Paraiba in Brazil back in 1988, these “Paraiba” tourmalines took the gemstone trade by storm and are currently amongst the rarest and most highly sought after gemstones known.
Tourmalines are found globally and is considered to be one of the most diverse gemstones known. Clean facetable material that has a good colour hue and size is considered quite rare though. Lagoon tourmalines are amongst the rarest and most desirable varieties of Tourmaline.
The Tourmaline group contains a large range of different mineral varieties. Due to the large amount of slight nuances in their extremely complex chemical composition between them Mineralogists have given them the term “Complex Boro-silicates” which is generally used to describe the Chemical composition of any Tourmaline.
The name “Tourmaline” is derived from the Sinhalese word “Toramalli” which roughly translates to “Mixed stones”.
Tourmalines can exhibit a wide range
of optical effects such as:
- Colour change
- Fluorescence (although this is rare!)
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