Tourmaline, variety rubellite, 18.0 x 12.0 mm, 22.70 cts, Jos Plateau, Nigeria. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.
Rubellites are tourmalines with reasonably saturated dark pink to red colors and medium to dark tones. They make excellent jewelry stones, and ruby-red colored specimens without orange or brown overtones are highly prized.
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Deep pinkish red to slightly purplish red are the most desirable colors. Brownish tones decrease a stone’s value considerably.
For more information on rubellite quality factors, consult our rubellite buying guide.
This rubellite shows a rich red color with slightly purple tones. Portuguese pear-shaped cut, 24.0 x 12.0 x 8.0 mm, 14.75 cts, Jos Plateau, Nigeria. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.
Tourmaline: rubellite, Madagascar (36.85), Brazil (13.16, 17.13 // 16.73, 10.26, 23.56). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.
Trace amounts of manganese create rubellite’s natural pink to red color. You may encounter light pink stones labelled as rubellites, but these are more properly considered pink tourmalines.
Rubellites have a hardness of 7 to 7.5 and no cleavage, so, whether faceted or cabbed, they make good stones for any type of jewelry. Lapidaries can also carve them.
Although the majority of Brazilian rubellites receive native cuts, custom cuts add value.
In terms of clarity, rubellites are typically Type III gems. Thus, they almost always contain inclusions. (Needle-like inclusions can also create cat’s eye gems). Due to their scarcity and beauty, collectors and jewelry buyers value untreated, eye-clean or better rubellite gems most highly.
In recent years, African deposits have yielded cleaner rough. However, these African finds often show brown tinges and rarely approach the ruby-like red of gems from older Brazilian sources.
Rubellite, Cruzeiro Mine, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.
Irradiation, a now common gemstone treatment, can produce stable red tones in otherwise pale pink stones. Since this treatment is undetectable, assume all rubellites are treated, even though individual stones may not be.
Highly included rubellites sometimes receive fillings similar to those used on emerald, another highly included gemstone. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) can detect this. Hot point testing can also detect this treatment. However, this is a destructive technique. It should only be used as a last resort.
Notable sites for mining rubellite gems include Afghanistan, Brazil, Madagascar, Myanmar, Nigeria, Russia, and the United States.
Tourmaline, variety rubellite, on albite, 6.0 x 5.6 x 4.6 cm, Transbaikalia, Eastern Siberian Region, Russia. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.
Although rubellites are durable jewelry stones, avoid rough handling and use protective settings for heavily included stones. Inclusions as well as filler treatments may also make some rubellites sensitive to heat. Therefore, don’t use mechanical cleaning processes, such as ultrasonic or steam systems. Instead, use a soft brush, mild detergent, and warm water for cleaning. Otherwise, rubellite requires no special care.
For more care recommendations, consult our gemstone jewelry cleaning guide.