Tourmaline vs Sapphire: What Are They, And What’s The Difference?

When you shop for jewelry, you might spy two pink-hued gems, a tourmaline, and a sapphire.

Many people only think of sapphire in its blue form, but the gem also grows in pink.

Tourmaline also appears in many hues, but most people know it as a pink-hued gem.

If you didn’t know the difference, you might confuse the two.

Here’s what you need to know about the two valuable materials.

Tourmaline vs Sapphire: The Basics

What Is A Sapphire?

Sapphire provides the September birthstone in its blue shade.

This stone can develop in any color though except red.

It belongs to the same corundum mineral family as the ruby, and both are known for their durability and hardness.

When the corundum develops as red it becomes a ruby, when it develops in blue, it becomes a sapphire.

Although sapphires do sometimes develop inclusions, they develop better clarity than their relations, the ruby.

While both the sapphire and tourmaline appear in jewelry, the sapphire also gets used in making some electric devices.

Using the natural gemstone became expensive, so science created synthetic sapphires.

When you scan your groceries in the self-check line, the scanner device uses a synthetic sapphire to process information.

Cocoa sapphires actually appear as medium-dark, purple gems with brown in them.

Sapphires can also develop colorless.

That means they develop in a color similar to a diamond.

A corundum gemstone is allochromatic, obtaining its color from trace elements.

When no trace elements appear in the surroundings, it develops as a colorless gem.

Mythologically and symbolically, the blue sapphire connects to the planet Venus, the goddess Venus, and the weekday of Friday.

Since more than one zodiac system exists, the sapphire links to more than one astrological symbol – both Taurus and Gemini.

It serves as the birthstone of September. The purple-blue color of violet sapphires represents old age and the number three.

Historically, the Greeks associated the stone with the god Apollo.

When ancient Greeks visited Delphi for consultations with the oracles, they frequently wore a sapphire.

It supposedly helps the individual access their “third eye.”

That allowed them to clearly understand the oracle’s predictions.

Necromancers used the stone to influence spirits.

The Christians also venerated the gem, referring to the star sapphire as the “Stone of Destiny.”

According to myth, you can ward off the Evil Eye with sapphire and it keeps the devil at bay.

What Is A Tourmaline?

You might not recognize a tourmaline when you see it because this hard gem has one of the widest color ranges of any stone.

Similar to how the sapphire picks up colors from trace elements, so does the tourmaline.

When iron or titanium mix with it, it causes the gem to develop a blue or green color, while manganese turns it pink or reds, but sometimes yellow.

The yellow and pink tourmalines’ center develops from radiation, hence the colors.

Copper in tourmaline turns it green or vivid blue.

You can find multi-colored gems, too, such as the watermelon tourmaline.

It develops pink at the center and green on the exterior, hence its name.

Like the sapphire, it serves as a birthstone, sharing October duties with the opal.

It also serves as the gem to mark the eighth wedding anniversary.

While synthetic sapphire gets used in retail cash register scanners, the natural stone of tourmaline has its unique properties, too.

When you heat tourmaline, it takes on an electrical charge, plus it is piezoelectric when squeezed.

Another unique trait of the tourmaline is its trigonal system.

When it crystallizes, it forms three-sided prisms, something no other gemstone does.

If you want a nearly inclusion-less stone, choose a blue or green tourmaline.

If you want a pink or red one, you will need to accept a few visible inclusions.

The tourmaline develops from boron silicate minerals with a common crystal structure that has some physical properties similar to a wide variety of chemical compositions.

Its variety of chemical makeup provides the colors and vivid combinations.

The gem gets used by jewelers in jewelry making and collected by those with mineral collections.

Most tourmaline occurs in black, but it also develops in green, blue, pink, yellow, red, purple, brown, orange, and colorless.

In its raw form, a large specimen may show more than one color.

As a mineral specimen, it can grow with other gems.

For example, tourmaline crystals may develop on cleavelandite alongside lepidolite and quartz.

You might also see emeralds develop with black prismatic tourmaline on quartz and white feldspar.

The width of this view is about two inches.

Most commonly, you find these crystals in metamorphic and igneous rock in fractures or cavities.

They form during hydrothermal activity when hot water and water vapor transport necessary elements to the fracture or cavity.

Tourmaline vs Sapphire: Similarities and the Differences

You will find Brazil rife with tourmaline.

Portugal also proves a ready source of the stone which some people find when panning for gold.

When first found, they were mistaken for rubies and sapphires.

You can also mine the gemstone in the United States.

It is readily found throughout the state of Maine and in southern California. Other areas where it develops include Afghanistan, Mozambique, Pakistan, Namibia, Nigeria, and Tanzania.

Sapphires develop in no less diverse a number of locations.

You can also mine it in the US, Afghanistan, Australia, Burma/ Myanmar, and many other countries in Asia.

Since tourmaline varies so much in color, jewelers and gemologists gave all the variations nicknames.

  • Schorl tourmaline refers to black tourmaline.
  • Rubellite refers to red tourmaline.
  • Indicolite refers to blue tourmaline.
  • Chrome tourmaline refers to green tourmaline.
  • Canary tourmaline refers to yellow tourmaline.
  • Paraiba tourmaline refers to vivid blue tourmaline.
  • Electric tourmaline refers to violet tourmaline.

Other colors the jewelers tack onto the word tourmaline, such as pink tourmaline or purple tourmaline.

The cost of these gemstones varies.

A multi-carat Paraiba tourmaline can cost up to $10,000.

The greater the color vividness, the most a gemstone of this type fetches.

You could pay up to $11,000 for a sapphire per carat, but most of these gems cost less than that.

You can find lower-quality gems of both of these types for about $30 per carat.