Located in the historic Pike Place Market, Isadora’s has specialized in exquisite antique jewelry for 38 years. Our discriminating collection includes pieces from the early 1800’s through the 1950’s, without a reproduction to be found. Our precious pieces are sent to North American Gem Lab for independent appraisals. We invite you to call our toll free number for applicable discounts. On many of our pieces, we are able to offer between 10-25% off of appraisal value.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

California’s Tourmaline Rush

In my monthly search to uncover the secrets of October’s birthstones I learned a little nugget of information that surprised and intrigued me.  Apparently the Gold Rush was not the only precious metal/gemstone to create a craze in the hills of California.  Between 1898 and 1914, San Diego County California outdid Brazil, Burma and Ceylon when it came to the production of Tourmalines as the world; particularly China became crazy for California Pink Tourmalines.

Pink Tourmaline 
It began when Gemologist J.L. Tannenbaum, having seen a beautiful piece of pink  tourmaline from California, decided he needed to have more of this fantastic stone.  So posing as a consumptive looking to buy a mountain cabin among the healing air of California he scouted and purchased the Himalayan Mine.  He proceeded to mine a prodigious amount of these beautiful stones.

The Dowager Empress of China, Tzu Hsi
His chief purchaser was the dowager empress of China, Tzu Hsi, who could not get enough of California’s pink tourmaline, making it the de jour stone for the wealthy of China, where it was used not only in jewelry but in fantastic ornately carved snuff bottles, some of which can be seen in museums today.

Carved Pink Tourmaline Snuff Bottle
The empress loved tourmaline so much that on her death and burial she decided her eternal rest would be on a tourmaline pillow.

Isadora's Art Deco Pink Tourmaline Ring
Brazil today, is the leading producer of tourmaline but the California mines continue to mine beautiful tourmalines and they are still most famous for pink tourmalines in all different shades and hues.  And if you buy a vintage or antique pink tourmaline piece there is a good chance it came from the Himalayan Mine.


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