Tourmaline – The Facts

Now that you have fallen in love with the beauty of tourmaline (see here if you missed the earlier post), it is time to find out a bit more about this gemstone.

Ancient Egyptian lore says that as tourmaline travelled up from the middle of the earth toward the sun, it travelled along a rainbow and collected all the colours of the rainbow.  I like this story.  Rainbows are beautiful, whimsical and ephemeral.  The idea fits tourmaline, my favourite stone.   

Tourmaline, the birthstone for October, is available in a wide range of colours – blue, green, yellow, pink, red, brown, black and clear.  This means that those born in October can have pretty much whatever colour they want for their stone.  

Tourmaline cabochons

This variety of colour is great for family jewelry.  Does your husband, who is born in October, not want to be represented by a pink stone in your family ring?  No problem, he can pick a blue or a green tourmaline.  Are you born in May, your husband in August and your daughter in October?  Rather than having 3 green stones in your ring, why not pick a yellow or pink one to represent your daughter?  Those born in October have all the options. 

Tourmaline was first introduced in Europe in 1703 when the Dutch imported the stone from Sri Lanka.  Tourmaline’s name originates in Sri Lanka.  It comes from the Sinhalese word tura mali, which means “stone of mixed colours”. 

Tourmaline-51113

Multi-coloured tourmaline crystal

In Victorian England, black tourmaline (also known as schorl) was frequently used in mourning jewelry as it is tougher and longer lasting than jet.

The value of tourmaline varies greatly and depends on the quality of the colour of the stone.  The most expensive tourmalines are the Paraiba tourmalines (bright neon blue), verdelite tourmaline (green), rubellite tourmaline (pink to red) and indicolite tourmaline (blue).

Elbaite-cktsr-11b

Faceted indicolite tourmaline gemstone

Tourmaline is often heat treated to enhance its colour.  Blue tourmaline crystals are treated to lighten the colour while low grade pink and red ones are treated to intensify their colour. 

In addition to being beautiful, tourmaline has an interesting physical characteristic.  If heated, rubbed or pressurized, a tourmaline crystal will become electrically charged, causing it to attract small objects such as dust, hair, fluff and dirt.  This results in the need to clean tourmaline more often that most gemstones. 

Tourmaline is my favourite gemstone, so you won’t be surprised that I have incorporated it into my work.

Tourmaline and Sterling Silver Chandelier Necklace

Chrysoprase and Sterling Silver Earrings with Tourmaline Rondelle Dangles

Quartz and Sterling Silver Bracelet with Tourmaline Dangles

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