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Tourmaline: The ‘Sleeper Hit’ Of Green Engagement Rings

Feb. 19 2014
It is true that most people go for emeralds when shopping for green engagement rings. Less-known tourmalines can be just as attractive as you will discover.

Lemon Tree is a great listener and while I was working at my desk the other morning I was distracted, as usual, so I thought I would bottom out the idea of a green engagement ring with him at my side.

Our chats pretty much follow the same routine. He sits, head cocked as I launch into one of my dilemmas. He sometimes sits tall and wags his tail across the carpet and other times he just lies down with his head on his paws giving me that despairing look that always implies that my dilemma is one that will never be solved.

Not this time. He stayed focused and appeared to hear my every word as I told him my thoughts on green engagement rings.

18 carat green tourmaline ring by Jana Reinhardt

18 carat green tourmaline ring by Jana Reinhardt

It is Not All About the Emerald

In recent years, a number of coloured engagement rings have been popping up and acquiring a certain degree of popularity amongst engaged and newlywed couples. We all know that though, don’t we?

My quest was to find out why each one was making its claim as an engagement ring stone. Why have green engagement rings, along with many other colours, become so popular in the last few decades and are now fighting the quintessential diamond for the top spot in the engagement ring market?

The truth is, however, these alternatives were always there, each offering a range of different stones to choose from. Blue, for example, offered sapphires and certain emeralds, while lovers of red had topaz and ruby to choose from.

The Attractive Understudy

Green stones included emeralds and tourmalines and while each of these colour categories ended up being dominated by a specific stone, the ‘understudies’ of each colour bracket are no less attractive and offer great alternatives for couples looking for a less ordinary option.

TourmalineCommB by Melanie Eddy

TourmalineCommB by Melanie Eddy

Take tourmaline, for example. While nowhere near as widely known in the field of green engagement rings as emerald, this stone is stunning in its beauty and exudes a light like no other. It is both unique and exclusive and very appealing to me. Lemon Tree agrees obviously as he smiles in that doggy way they do when I ask him if he thinks L would like a tourmaline as an alternative.

Science Talk About Tourmaline

Structurally, tourmaline is a prismatic crystal, made unique by the fact that it is the only mineral of its kind to have a three-sided shape. It is most commonly mined in the United States, Brazil, Afghanistan, Africa and Sri Lanka, and comes in a variety of colours depending on which mineral constitutes its base.

Iron-rich tourmalines are typically black or dark brown, while the type found in green engagement rings is usually lithium-based, and magnesium-rich varieties tend to be brown or yellow. Some forms of tourmaline can have two colours, one at each end, while others may change colour depending on the angle and the light they are viewed in.

I showed Lemon Tree a couple of pictures on the net and he yawned, but didn’t move. He could sense my need to chat and he stuck loyally by my side.

I was just explaining to Lemon Tree that each of these types of tourmalines is also known by a specific denomination and that the more common iron-rich tourmalines are typically known as ‘schorls’, after a German town where, in the 1400s, dark tourmalines could be found, when L came in from her lunch date with Bridget.

She kissed me on the head before chiding me about talking to Lemon Tree, especially about science. When I told her it was about green engagement rings and tourmaline she took it back and came to join us.

Different Shades of Green

Rather less common, and therefore more valuable as jewellery gems, are the other types of tourmaline. The brownish-yellow, magnesium-based ones are known as Dravites, after the Carinthian district of Drave, while the lithium-based variety is known as ‘elbaite’, after the island of Elba, in Italy. Similarly, each of the sub-colours of the elbaite range has its own specific denomination, with the ones usually seen in green engagement rings, for instance, being known as ‘verdelites’ or Brazilian emeralds.

tourmaline and ruby cocktail by Sophie Breitmeyer

tourmaline and ruby cocktail by Sophie Breitmeyer

As an engagement ring stone we both agree that tourmaline is an elegant, unassuming and visually gorgeous option, not to mention original. Lemon tree agreed and now he was secure in the fact that L was back and he knew I had another listening ear, he pottered off to find his dinner.

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