Tourmaline is a crystalline boron silicate mineral
that mixes with other chemical combinations
to create the large variety of colors it comes in -
in fact, more than any other mineral group!
This beautiful, semiprecious stone comes in colors of
green, black, pink, blue, red yellow, purple, clear, grey, orange, brown
and multiple color varieties.
Tourmaline is one of the birthstones for the month of October,
and is associated with the zodiac signs of Virgo and Libra.
Tourmaline is also known as the 8th year Anniversary gift.
Tourmaline derives its name from the Singhalese words
"turamali" which means "stone of mixed color" and
"toramalli" which means "mixed gems".
Tourmaline is purported to promote self-confidence and compassion,
while soothing fears and paranoia.
It is also considered a balancing stone (think Libra),
and it is considered to stimulate artistic inspiration.
Also known as a lucky charm stone.
Did you know that Tourmaline is the official State Gemstone of Maine?
Tourmaline is most commonly found as small crystals, as you can see
of these pink tourmaline raw crystals in the image above,
forming among larger pieces of rock.
They are usually found in millimeter sizes, as they are here.
Minas Gerais, Brazil was the most important source of tourmaline
for about 500 years. Green tourmaline crystals that were
first discovered back in the 1500's were thought to be emeralds,
until the modern technology of scientists
in the 1800's determined them to be tourmalines.
In the United States, tourmaline was first discovered in 1821
in the state of Maine.
Tourmaline was also discovered in southern California in the
late nineteenth century, becoming the most important source at the time.
Tourmaline found in this area was mostly shipped to China
to be carved into jewelry and charms for a Chinese Empress,
who had taken a fancy to these beautiful stones.
Later in the 20th century, tourmaline was also found
in other countries, such as Afghanistan, Namibia, Tanzania,
Mozambique, Pakistan and Nigeria.
Raw crystal tourmalines usually have a geometric appearance
that form in various shapes that help in identifying them
with scientific names.
For those of us who are not geologists or gemologists,
there are easier names being used to identify them.
As said before, it is the various chemical combinations
that result in the myriad of colors tourmaline can be found in.
Additions of iron can produce green and blue tourmalines,
while manganese additions can produce reds, pinks and yellows.
Rubellite (image above) tourmaline is usually red, purplish red,
brownish red, orange red, or purplish red.
Indicolite tourmaline is usually a greenish blue or dark violet blue,
created by chemicals or elements other than copper,
while the famous Paraiba tourmaline is the intense greenish blue
color found in Paraiba, Brazil, that is caused by copper.
Chrome tourmaline is an intense green color.
Parti-color tourmaline refers to tourmalines that are more than one color!
Watermelon tourmaline is one example of this.
It is pink on the inside and green on the outside,
generally triangular in shape,
like the one pictured above.
Black rutilated or Tourmalinated Quartz refers to
clear quartz with needle-like black tourmaline inclusions.
The black tourmaline (which is the most common tourmaline)
is referred to as schorl, and was used in the Victorian era
for mourning jewelry.
Yellow tourmaline can referred to as canary tourmaline.
Petro or petrol tourmalines are found in autumn colors of
browns, oranges, and golden yellows and in the greenish yellow shades
resembling petroleum colors.
Single tourmaline crystals exhibiting two or more colors
are referred to as "color zoned" tourmaline.
Parti-color tourmalines are "color zoned", as well as
watermelon tourmalines, which are the most popular
of the multi-colored gems.
Cat's Eye tourmalines reflect light which looks like a "cat's eye",
a property known as "chatoyancy", whereby the internal
crystalline structure reflects light this way
when the gemstone is cut in a certain way.
Cutting some other tourmalines in certain ways
can result in the stone showing a "color change".
This usually means the stone looks darker or lighter
when viewed from different angles.
Tourmaline stones are often heat treated to brighten the their color.
This treatment is usually permanent as opposed to irradiated treatments,
which can possible change over time.
The most valued and prized tourmaline is the Paraiba tourmaline,
which is a bright blue to bright green, vividly colored stone
found in Paraiba, Brazil in 1989.
This rare color is created by tiny amounts of copper that mix in the crystal.
The color has been found in other parts of the world, but it is the
natural, untreated stone that comes specifically from Paraiba, Brazil
that goes for very high prices.
Determining the correct geographic location a stone of this color
originated from, can only be done by special equipment.
Tourmaline is a good stone for every day wear, as it is hard enough
to resist scratches from regular wear and abrasion,
having a hardness of 7 - 7.5.
It should only be cleaned with a soft brush, mild soap and warm water,
never ultrasonic or steam devices.
A fun fact about tourmaline is that it can generate an
electric current or static electricity when it is rubbed or heated!
This can cause it to attract more dust and need more frequent
careful cleaning by hand.