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Why the tourmaline, October’s birthstone, can appeal to everyone

Alongside opal, October also has another birthstone: tourmaline.

In terms of birthstones, the month of October is a colourful one. In fact, it’s represented by not one but two gemstones: the opal and the tourmaline. While the first presents a kaleidoscope of colour in a single gem, the latter paints the whole spectrum through its countless varieties. The ancient Egyptians allegedly explained the tourmaline’s polychromatic potential with myth: as the stone emerged from the Earth, it passed through a rainbow and captured its colours.

Of course, science has since offered us a technical (but no less fascinating) explanation. Tourmalines really refer to a group of minerals that share the same crystal structure but are composed of different elements. Iron-rich tourmalines result in black crystals that are believed to absorb negative energy. Traces of lithium, meanwhile, bring out the brighter side of the tourmaline, producing hues like green, yellow and pink.

Rihanna wearing a Chopard high jewellery necklace in diamond and rubellite.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The neon blue that you see in the extremely rare Paraiba tourmaline? That’s thanks to copper. As for the rubellite, which has often been mistaken for the ruby throughout history, it owes its vivid, crimson appearance to manganese. And we haven’t even gotten to the unexpected, multi-coloured types, like the watermelon tourmaline.

It’s no wonder that the jewellery world is so enamoured with the tourmaline — there’s one for every occasion, mood or taste. That only makes shopping for a gift for your loved ones born in October that much easier. Jewellers like Tiffany & Co. and Chaumet have played with the versatile gemstone, producing designs that bring out their many rich hues. Below, we’ve selected five jewels that truly showcase the multifaceted appeal of the tourmaline.

Header image credit: Tiffany & Co.

This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Singapore.


Tiffany & Co. is most associated with the colour blue, so it’s not surprising that the New York jeweller opted for a tourmaline in that signature hue. And it got the finest one it could find: the cuprian elbaite, more commonly known as the “Paraiba tourmaline” for the Brazilian state where it was first discovered. The rare gemstone, weighing a hefty 5.47 carats, makes a mesmerising centrepiece to this platinum ring — enough to steal your gaze away from the dazzling diamonds that surround it.

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The tourmaline can certainly look pretty in pink too. When it takes on a rosy hue like this one, the gemstone is given a special name: rubellite. It’s not a coincidence that it sounds similar to “ruby”, for which the rubellite is often considered as a worthy alternative. The two stunning pink gems that dot these pavé diamond Bulgari earrings certainly make that case.

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What gem best represents the “passion of a Tolstoyan heroine”? If you asked Chaumet, it would be the red rubellite that lies at the heart of this necklace. Cut into an elegant oval shape and weighing an impressive 9.22 carats, the gem may be too strong a statement for anything that isn’t a formal affair. Luckily, Chaumet kept that in mind when making this necklace transformable; you can detach the gem and still elicit the same wonderstruck response from your companions.

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One look at the green tourmaline on this Piaget ring and you’ll know why the gemstone has historically been confused for the emerald. The two share a hypnotic, verdant brilliance, which has been brought out all the more by the 28-carat malachite that envelops the accessory.

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Deprived of nature during lockdown, LA fine jewellery designer Emily P. Wheeler decided to incorporate what she’d been missing into her creations. In this ray burst necklace, the tourmaline is presented in its natural, crystal form, which is just as stunning as its gemstone version. Each raw piece is set into a rectangular pink sapphire bezel, elevating the necklace into a polished accessory.

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