Tourmaline is a name applied to a family of related minerals with widely varying properties. Tourmalines make very popular jewelry stones and come in an amazing range of colors, including multi-color zones. Tourmaline is the modern October birthstone, and pink in particular is a very popular color.
Ready availability keeps tourmaline prices reasonable. Small tourmalines (under 5 carats) are fairly easy to obtain at modest cost. Only when you get into large sizes or extremely rare or fine colors do prices go over a few hundred dollars per carat.
Most colors are fairly common, but pure blue, red, orange, yellow, and purple stones are rare. Such stones usually command higher prices. Color-change tourmalines are also exceptionally rare. Neon-blue paraíba tourmalines, raspberry-red rubellites, and emerald-green chrome tourmalines are especially prized.
The vast majority of cut tourmaline gemstones belong to the elbaite species. Other species you might find cut or in jewelry are dravite, liddicoatite, schorl, and uvite. You’ll rarely encounter other tourmaline species cut as gemstones, but they do show up occasionally.
Although tourmaline crystals are abundant worldwide, only a few occurrences are reported in B.C. Pegmatites at the headwaters of Skookumchuck Creek and St. Mary Lake north of Cranbrook, the Slocan Valley north of Castlegar, and Midge Creek west of Kootenay Lake have reported some tourmaline crystals.
Pegmatite dykes on Mica Mountain south of Tete Jaune Cache and Mount Begbie south of Revelstoke contain black, green and red tourmaline.