Sell With A Story: Rubellite Tourmaline
With a name like rubellite, you can be pretty sure it’s a) red and b) probably connected to ruby. You’re absolutely right. Rubellite is a red tourmaline with a stunningly intense color similar to ruby. And they share a common Latin root: ruber or rubellus meaning either reddish brown or reddish violet. The most valuable stones are reddish violet in hue.
I was going to write about jade for August. As luck would have it, Gary Venable, Senior Gemstone Product Manager, told me we are now carrying gorgeous rubellite from Nigeria in our Black Box Gemstones® collection. Well, I have a weakness for rich red stones set in yellow gold so I wanted to see it. It was love at first sight, with six shapes to choose. I decided to postpone jade for another month. I wanted to know more about this vibrant red tourmaline.
Not surprisingly . . .
From Greek and Roman times, rubellite was mistaken for ruby. During this long historic period, blue tourmaline and green tourmaline were similarly mistaken for sapphire and emerald. But in the 19th century, it was identified as different from ruby. And it had a crystal structure similar to other minerals called tourmaline.
A very large ruby
In 1786, King Gustav III of Sweden gave the Russian Empress Catherine the Great a 250-carat ruby that became part of the Russia’s Crown Jewels. In 1926, it was discovered to be a large rubellite.
Rubellite is a doubly refractive gemstone and it’s pronouncedly pleochroic — so much so, that it is the most dichroic of the known gemstones. This means that every crystal has two colors (primary and secondary), the intensity of which depends on the angle of observation. When cut and polished, this gemstone typically displays primary pure reds with secondary purples or pinks. Primary reds with secondary purples constitute the majority of rubellites and define this beautiful gemstone — the more pure the red, the more costly the gem.
Red or pink? Throw some light on it — any light
Rubellite has the extraordinary good fortune to shine just as intensely in artificial light as it does in daylight. Not only is this beautiful, it’s useful information. Many websites sell a reddish pink tourmaline as rubellite. In fact sometimes they call it “Pink Rubellite Tourmaline.” If you hold this under artificial light, you’ll note a clearly visible hint of brown that identifies it as pink tourmaline.
Rub or heat this gemstone and you will discover it has an electric charge. One end of the axis is positive and the other is negative letting it attract dust or bits of paper. In the 18th century when the Dutch East India Trading Company brought rubellite from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) to Europe, they used this pyroelectric effect to remove ash from their large Meerschaum pipes.
Like emerald, rubellite typically grows with many inclusions and most rubellite has visible inclusions.* Fortunately for us all, Nigeria has produced beautiful eye clean rubellite. This is the source of the rubellite in our Black Box Gemstones. Why does Nigeria consistently produce fine quality? We’ll have to study geology, mineralogy, and possibly chemistry to get some idea. For myself, it’s enough just knowing it’s an excellent source.
*It’s interesting to note that certain inclusions are of great interest to collectors who will pay top dollar for them.
The bigger, the better
Right now, eye clean rubellites up to six carats are fairly readily available. But eye clean stones of excellent color over 15 carats are rare and much sought after.
More than a gorgeous stone
Are you ready to have rubellite power change your life? Its abilities are quite sensational and I can certainly see customers wanting some of these gifts.
Its opening act is hard to beat. According to lore, it can heal the heart physically if you have a heart ailment, emotionally if you are broken-hearted, and spiritually, by promoting loving awareness of life and an open heart. Guess what? It can do far more. Rubellite can also —
- Bring you prosperity and abundance.
- Enhance vitality with a positive nurturing energy.
- Treat disorders of the lungs, liver, and digestive system.
- Strengthen circulation.
- Impart calm and balance.
- Dispel negative energy.
Introduce customers to this life-changing stone.