Rubellite Tourmaline

Rubellite is one of the most desirable varieties of Tourmaline; in fact, there are only four significant deposits of Tourmaline in the entire world. Brazil’s first Tourmaline mine, the historic Cruzeiro mine located in São José da Safira, in Minas Gerais. This was an important deposit in the late 70s and early 80s, but it was Nigeria from 1998 onwards that really turned heads.

The renowned Tourmaline deposits, unearthed in farming areas about 40 kilometers from the city of Ibadan in Nigeria’s Oyo, state near the border with Benin (West Africa), were virtually mined out within two years and today this source is largely depleted. Nigeria is noted for yielding extremely fine Rubellite (as well as other Tourmalines with fashionable saturated colors and remarkable clarities), sometimes in larger sizes than usual.

Next are the deposits near the town of Betafo, located in Madagascar’s central highlands, which were discovered around 2005. This deposit divides opinion, with some viewing its output as globally insignificant and tainted by too many brownish chocolates, and others praising its more ruby-like specimens. The most recent, albeit short-lived discovery is Tourmaline from Shimoyo (also spelled Chimoio) in Mozambique's Manica Province. Only in operation from around January to April 2008, this deposit’s Rubellite is characterized by an unusually high ‘eye-clean’ clarity and a ‘classic’ color, with very little secondary brownish tints. This rubellite has also frequently been found to be copper-bearing hence the strong vivid colors like Paraiba blue, or neon pink. It may come back from the lab certified as Elbaite which makes the gem much more valuable. 

Some labs/jewelers (especially online,) are willing to call any red or pink tourmaline rubellite so use GIA or choose a reputable dealer. In its best form rubellite is a valuable gem and as gorgeous as the finest ruby. In gems of 1 to 2 carat you may find better clarity but expect to pay a lot and large rubellite can be worth a small fortune.

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