‘Like a sunset.’ Local jeweler shares her love for tourmaline gems

Bainbridge jeweler Robin Callahan loves all gems, but these days she finds tourmaline particularly irresistible.

“It’s because of the variety of colors — and also because they look so amazing with my hand-faceted pearls,” she says. “Listen, diamonds are beautiful, but there’s this unending joy in staring at the color in a tourmaline. They’ll look one way indoors, and totally different in natural light.”

@robincallahandesigns Love when each project is done and you can hold your vision. These freshwater pink and lavender hand faceted pearls are breathtaking! She chose a beautiful Tourmaline for her center of the clasp and pendant. Accented with baguettes, rounds, and Princess Diamonds plus Pink Tourmaline and pink purple Sapphires. She can snap off that clasp and wear it as a pendant and a small custom clasp snaps on if she want to wear the pearls alone. Love make these extravagant projects very versatile so they are worn many ways! #robincallahandesigns #artist #artjewelry #addmorecolortoyourlife #customjewelry #bainbridgejewelrydesign #rockarobinring #oneofakind #couture #finejewelry #pearl #pearls ♬ Adventure of a Lifetime – Coldplay

Tourmaline can be found around the world and right here in America, and each country’s gems have different color varieties.

“Russian Malkhan Tourmaline is like a sunset: it’s just mind-blowing to see the shades of pink, orange and yellow within a single gem. Tourmaline from other countries also come in quite a range of colors, bi and tri colors. Some have different shades — for instance Afghanistan’s pink is usually a more true pink, whereas many of the pieces from the Congo tend to be a bit more peachy pink.”

@robincallahandesigns There is something special about a Russian Malkhan Tourmaline! 12.65 cts of WOW! Available as a custom #robincallahandesigns #artjewelry #sunset ♬ Your Feelings – Bolth & The Ølivers

Some types of tourmaline are rare, and their price reflects that. But many gorgeous varieties are easier to find, and thus much more affordable. Some of the gems available at the Robin Callahan Designs private studio are bi- or tri-color gems — and she even has a quad-color gem.

“It goes from lime green to bright green to blue-green to pink — all in one stone! I’m constantly searching to find the very best, and usually don’t want to sell them unless I get to make a piece of jewelry with them,” she says.

@robincallahandesigns Definitely some @dalanhargrave Magic here! After cutting the blend of colors showed a tri color! Wow wow wow. I can’t wait to create for this beauty 💗💙💚 #robincallahandesigns #artist #artjewelry #addmorecolortoyourlife #customjewelry #bainbridgejewelrydesign #rockarobinring #bling #flowerlover #oneofakind #couture #finejewelry #tourmaline #raregems ♬ 24K Magic – Bruno Mars

Callahan used a bi-color tourmaline for her ring ‘Bubbliscious,’ which won a prestigious Spectrum Award in 2021. She calls them ‘mermaid gems’ when they contain a mix of dreamy pastel shades.

Tourmaline has a moderate strength (usually 7.5 on the hardness scale, similar to quartz), which means it’s safe to wear all the time. Plus Callahan designs her jewelry in a way that keeps them more protected.

“I actually give my clients a dish made by a local artisan and tell them to keep it next to the sink, so they remember to take their dang ring off before doing dishes or gardening. These gems can handle a lot, but it’s still better to take care of them!” 

@robincallahandesigns 8.35 cts 11.5 x 11.5 x 9 mm of Afghan green blue yumminess! This beautiful Tourmaline ready to be a ring or pendant! #addmorecolortoyourlife #robincallahandesigns #artjewelry #customjewelry #rockarobinring #ring #jewelry #jewelrydesigner #tourmaline ♬ Come Check This – FETISH

Somewhere in the Rainbow

After a Robin Callahan Designs Oregon Sunstone pendant was purchased by the Somewhere in the Rainbow Collection (the largest privately owned collection of gems and jewelry in the world), Callahan was commissioned to create a second piece of jewelry by the curators. She travelled to the Somewhere in the Rainbow Collection office in Scottsdale where she spent the day looking at all the beautiful gems in their private safe (the collection is so large that they display a large rotating collection at the Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum at the University of Arizona and the Harvard Museum, in addition to the many gems and pieces of jewelry in safe storage).

“Their walk-in safe was packed. It took me six hours to narrow it down to five stones, and I think they were all tourmaline. In the end I chose a 40 karat emerald cut gem that’s teal blue on the face, and the C-axis (that’s the side of the gem) is pure green.”

The gem Callahan chose was from a piece of Vivienne Westwood jewelry that was damaged beyond repair, and Callahan plans to honor another American artist with her finished piece.

“I stayed at the newly renovated Frank Lloyd Wright hotel in Arizona and was so inspired by the lines I saw in the hotel’s architecture. I plan on using that experience as inspiration in my design.”

To see her latest creations, follow Robin Callahan Designs on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. To get in touch about a commission, email robincallahan59@gmail.com or call 206-240-1681.

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