Jewellery Technology & Machinery - JTM
Mint Tourmalines

We take a closer look at the origins of the mint tourmalines and talk to Navneet Agarwal of Navneet Gems, Thailand, who sees a growing appetite for fresh mint colours in 2021.

A Hint of Mint

Cool-mint tourmalines evoke a bundle of freshness on a hot summer's day. In pastel and effervescent green, mint tourmalines embody positivity and a feeling of freshness. Citing the stones’ oxygenating fresh tones, size and affordability, Navneet Agarwal of Navneet Gems, a gemologist and wholesale gems supplier, believes the appetite for soothing colours like mint will shape consumer tastes in 2021.

Agarwal boasts an expansive array of mint tourmalines ranging from 3 carats to 20 carats in a variety of cuts, and also provides bespoke pieces and calibrated sizes. He explains that the resurgence of gentle pastel colours is linked to times of economic depression, spreading joy and positivity in the darkness of 2020. “Mint is becoming a colour that resonates with people because it’s bright, happy and relaxing.”

“Mint” is a widely known trade term that refers to a colour range from neon green to light toned green to bluish green with an undertone of yellow. “The name of the colour is a literal derivation from mint leaves,” said Agarwal. “On the RGB colour coordinates, it is described as a very light lime green. The gemological colour parameters are less stringent and encompass a variety of shades and saturations.”

Mint tourmaline is a comparatively recent phenomenon in the gemstone world. Agarwal noted that leading lapidarists like Nomads have been working with them for the last 20 years and have seen a steady growth in their popularity. “Mint tourmalines have been around ever since the discovery of tourmalines whereas these were previously less desirable tones for gems because they weren’t as chromatic as the demand,” noted Agarwal. “The millennial generation are moving away from intense vivid colours, opting for bright ‘open colour.’

Sourcing

The premier source of mint tourmalines is from the Laghman region of Afghanistan which arguably propelled mint tourmalines into the international spotlight. “Mint tourmalines mined in Afghanistan have a beautiful primary colour that is balanced out by compatible secondary modifying colours,” said Agarwal. “Combined with their restricted availability due to the nation’s geo-political scenario, their rarity also makes them highly valuable.”

The mining of tourmaline in Afghanistan can be traced to the 1970’s or possibly before by the locals, when gem crystals of spodumene, tourmaline and beryl have been extracted during the past few years from the pegmatite fields in eastern Afghanistan. Other important sources also include Brazil and Congo.

Superior quality for mint tourmalines are relatively rare because of difficulty in sourcing in terms of accessibility and availability. “The Laghman province of Afghanistan, where the best quality of these stones are available, is extremely remote and can be accessed only by foot. In Congo, the availability of demand versus quantity becomes an issue as the production is not enough to meet market demands.” He further explained that the ethical value of sourcing in these nations may be questioned, due to the volatile political climate and high tension in these regions. Whilst mint tourmaline sourced from areas of confirmed ethical and legal mining like Montana and California avoid this grey area.

As with any gemstone the origin holds immense value for the stone. “Apart from the colour and clarity, the origins of the gemstone can increase or decrease the value of it.” He explained “When you compare a mint tourmaline gemstone from Afghanistan will be valued higher than those mined in any African nation.”

When purchasing a mint tourmaline, colour, carat, clarity and cut are important factors to consider, and depend on personal preference and affordability.“Some might prefer the saturated tones of Afghanistan and Brazil while others might prefer the lighter green tones of Congo and other African sources.”

Agarwal sees continued market growth and reported that prices for mint tourmaline are currently stable, as demand hasn’t outstripped the supply. “Due to years of conditioning, buyers instinctively gravitate towards conventionally popular shades that are more saturated and vividly coloured.”

Engagement Rings

Young generations have a fresh and unconventional perspective on marriage and look for uniqueness to seal their vows. Navneet Agarwal sees potential in mint tourmalines for the engagement ring market, especially for those who want to define their personality. “The mint colour can be easily paired with other colours, which lends them the flexibility to be used either alone or with other gemstones to create extremely elaborate and intricate designs. They are also affordable in larger sizes than conventionally popular gemstones like lagoon tourmaline or cornflower blue sapphires.”

Mint-green hues do not occur widely in many other gemstones. Although you may find sapphires in the minty range, Agarwal added “they are often not so big, clean nor bright.” With the lack of substitute gems, mint tourmalines have strong potential to unlock opportunities for creative individuals and brands to build distinctive lines of jewellery.

Untitled Document
Latest Issue :
Volume 9 Issue 1

JTM Latest Issue


DBGIS