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What Is Rubellite and Why Is It So Expensive?

Rubellite is a form of tourmaline which closely resembles ruby. Specimens have been found in royal jewel collections mistaken as ruby for centuries. Under modern testing techniques large rubies mounted in crowns, necklaces and scepters have turned out to be rubellite tourmaline.

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Rubellite is one of the most valuable tourmalines and can sell for thousands of dollars a carat. Lower quality or standard pink and red tourmaline may sell for much less. The word rubellite was coined from the root word(s), “ruby like,” which morphed into the more scientific sounding term, rubellite.

The price of tourmaline has gone up substantially with the resurgence of interest in colored gems and popularity of tourmaline which comes in virtually every color. The most expensive varieties are rubellite and the (usually,) artificially heated newcomer, “Paraiba,” tourmaline which is subjected to high heat to go from pinkish red to greenish-blue or “swimming pool blue,” that is so prized in jewelry. Naturally occurring (no heat,) Paraiba, blue tourmaline from Brazil can exceed the price of unheated sapphire and sells in excess of 10,000.00 a carat.

Heating also improves clarity, so beware of the, “too perfect,” rubellite. While Paraiba for the most part has gone down in price; rubellite continues to increase in value right along with its namesake, the ruby. As ruby prices soar the price of rubellite climbs too. Rubellite like emerald is a type III gem, meaning it rarely comes without inclusions (imperfections visible to the naked eye) however, unless the imperfections detract from the beauty or integrity of the gem they do little if anything to bring down the gem’s value.
You will almost never see an emerald without eye visible inclusions and the same goes for rubellite.

Rubellite should have inclusions and the “gemmy,” look of an emerald; only in the ruby range shades of red to purplish pink. While they do exist, the chances of you finding a large (5 carat +) rubellite without inclusions for less than $10,000.00 a carat would be, odd and highly suspect. If a rubellite has no inclusions it is most likely not of the highest quality, or even a fake. However, as with emeralds, the inclusions should not detract from the beauty of the gem. In other words, expect inclusions in fine rubellite and emerald it is part of the gems identity and signature. If the inclusions detract from the gem’s beauty, on, too close to the surface, or unattractive, pass it by. If the gem is beautiful get over this American obsession with clear and clean, which is fine for diamonds but not rubellite, or emerald, again like emerald they are Type III Gems.

After color and clarity, origin affects value in rubellite the most. The finest rubellite we have seen comes out of Nigeria. Mozambique and Brazil and is a dead ringer for the color of a top ruby. This material is expensive and hard to come by but some dealers were fortunate to buy the rough early on. This allows those dealers to sell the gems at competitive pricing, for now.

Rubellite has retained, even gained in its value and is considered by many in the jewelry industry to be a top investment gem but be sure you know who you are dealing with. If in doubt it is strongly suggested you buy a gem certified by experts such as the labs of GIA. They can detect heat, type of stone and even the origin of a gem. Though large (5 carat+), rubellite can still be too expensive for many people to invest in if you buy wisely it should maintain its value and may be handed down from generation to generation.

Rubellite is hard enough to be worn in rings, but most people consider it too precious for everyday wear. Gems are always safer in pendants than on the hand and a large rubellite set in an enhancer and hung from a strand of pearls can make a regal statement in any crowd. But it will take daily wear if you choose, but avoid chemicals.

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Remember, a top-quality gem does not need diamonds to be beautiful, usually small accent diamonds are enough. A good stone should look good even if mounted alone in a solitaire mounting. Diamonds drive the price up. If you do use diamonds, high quality is better than larger inferior diamonds. A lot of younger buyers are choosing man-made diamonds which are real diamonds but not earth- mined and they are conflict free plus less expensive than earth-mined diamonds.

A quality rubellite set in jewelry with accent diamonds will be more rare than the diamonds surrounding it. Diamonds are not rare as gems go. They are expensive because the mine owners control the release of the gems to keep demand up. They have to store them in underground vaults because if they were all released at once people would start thinking about the fact that you can buy diamonds at Walmart, but not rubellite tourmaline.

One other fact is, the finest rubellite is never brown in tone. Pigeon blood red, (purplish pink) is the finest color of rubellite tourmaline, at least as far as most jewelers are concerned.

Places Rubellite are mined:
Afghanistan, Nigeria, Madagascar, United States, Brazil

This blog was written by Ezekiel Loftin of Chateau Peridot a subsidiary of Twisted South LLC.

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