Tourmaline is a jeweler’s favorite – it is a semi-precious gemstone that comes in a wide variety of colors. The term ‘tourmaline’ was coined from the Singhalese phrase “tura mali,” meaning “stone mixed with vibrant colors.” This liquorice allsorts occurs in various colors; pink, green, red, blue, black, watermelon and tourmalated quartz.
The different colors of tourmaline are known by different names. For instance black tourmaline is called schorl, and green tourmaline is called verdelite. It is said to believe that no two tourmalines will be of the same color.
Tourmaline was first discovered in Brazil in the 1500s when a Spanish conquistador found a green tourmaline crystal and confused the stunning gem with emerald. His confusion continued until scientists acknowledged tourmaline as a separate mineral species in the 1800s.
Discoveries in Brazil in the 1980s and 1990s increased tourmaline’s demand by bringing deep new hues to the marketplace. One of the earliest discoveries of tourmaline was in California in 1892. Despite its American origin, tourmaline’s chief market at the time was in China.
The Chinese Dowager Empress Tz’u Hsi was particularly fond of the pink and red tourmaline from San Diego County, resulting in shipping of the stone to China in large quantities. When the Chinese government collapsed in 1912, the trade from the US also crumbled.
However, the supply of tourmaline began to expand again in the first half of the twentieth century, when Brazil produced some hefty deposits. Later, beginning in the 1950s, additional discoveries of the stone were made in countries around the world.
Although Brazil remains the chief producer of tourmaline till date, the gemstone is mined everywhere in the world including Afghanistan, Africa, Australia, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Siberia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, USA, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
According to an old Egyptian legend, the reason behind the incomparable variety of colors of tourmaline is that the gemstone made a long journey up from the centre of the Earth and passed over a rainbow.
Most varieties of the colorful gem are found in veins that run through the igneous rock, Pegmatite. Pegmatite is formed from aqueous solutions within the molten magma when it undergoes a cooling process. The mixture of water, minerals and rainwater in the veins of hot magma cools and hardens into rock resulting in the formation of tourmaline and other stones.
Tourmaline can also be formed by the metamorphic process where the upper layers of large rock formations within the earth’s crust are worn away to expose the metamorphic rocks and mineral veins.
Tourmaline is made from hydrous minerals and usually includes at least half a dozen elements. You can find lithium, aluminum, silicon, potassium, borate, nickel, manganese and iron among other elements.
The color of some tourmaline stones can be deepened through heat treatment. Some greenish stones can be made deep green, some light pink stones can be made colorless and some brownish-red stones can be made red through heating.
The bi and tri colored stone has different names, depending on the color, which changes due slight variations in chemistry and crystalline structure.
– Colorless – Achroite
– Pink to red – Rubellite
– Shades of blue – Indicolite
– Shades of green – Verdelite
– Pink centre with outer rim of green – Watermelon
– Black – Schorl
Physical Properties And Meanings
Tourmaline has many appealing optical properties. Many green and blue varieties are powerfully pleochroic – meaning the color may actually be different when viewed at different angles. Certain tourmalines possess a cat’s eye effect when polished into cabochons.
Tourmaline is both pyroelectric and piezoelectric. If a sample is put under a pressure or temperature change, it will produce an electrical charge.
Metaphysical Properties And Symbolism
Tourmaline is said to be the gemstone with the most metaphysical properties.
Every color of tourmaline is believed to have its own distinct set of properties and meanings.
Blue Tourmaline (Indicolite)
The calming blue color of tourmaline is said to offer a soothing effect and provides relief from stress. The blue variety of the stone brings joy and happiness and promotes tolerance, harmony and kindness.
Blue tourmaline also enhances awareness and communications kills, it is used as an advance healing tool which helps to release emotional stress and progress in life. The stone also relieves headaches and migraines.
Blue tourmaline is rarer than green, pink and black varieties and is found in Brazil, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Africa.
The black tourmaline is believed to be ideal for psychic protection for individuals who work in a challenging environment as it protects the wearer from negative energies and evil vibes.
Black tourmaline is also recommended to find refuge again negative thoughts, anger, anxiety and low self esteem. Because of its linear flow of energy, black tourmaline is particularly helpful in relieving stress.
This stone is found in Brazil, Africa, Nepal, Pakistan and in the USA.
As the color suggests, pink is associated with love and matters of the heart. It represents the feminine or yin energies. The stone helps to stimulate feelings of love, joy and happiness calms the wearer by relieving stress.
Many of the high quality pink tourmaline crystals have been found California, Pala, Brazil, Afghanistan and Africa.
Similar to pink tourmaline, red tourmaline is also linked to love and is believed to be very effective in mending relationships and healing old wounds. It helps the wearer to overcome fear of safety, stability and survival. The stone helps to enhance courage and strength in the face of hardships.
Red Tourmaline is found in Brazil, Africa and USA.
The green tourmaline is the masculine counterpart to the pink tourmaline and helps to enhance physical energy and stamina and promote strength. The stone helps to overcome fear and bad habits.
It is found in Brazil, Pakistan, US, Africa and Afghanistan.
Watermelon tourmaline is the most sought after variety of the stone with a pink center and green ring around the outside. This stone combines the properties of green and pink tourmaline and thus augments their influence.
Watermelon tourmaline is believed to be the source of joy. It promotes positive energy, alleviates stress and heals emotional wounds.
The finest quality watermelon tourmaline is found in Brazil and Africa.
Named after the Austrian mineralogist, Drave, brown tourmaline is typically opaque. Dravite helps the wearer to accept the reality of things and bring the hidden feelings to the surface. It provides the wearer with a calming and soothing feeling and helps to overcome stress.
Most deposits of brown tourmaline are found in Brazil.
The stone is very close to crystal quartz but is usually found with traces of black tourmaline running through it. The tourmalated quartz is the most effective stone in lifting ‘bad vibes’ and augments energies of black tourmaline that are embedded in it. The stone helps to overcome negative energy and enhances strength to confront difficult situations. It also helps to overcome stress and depression.
Tourmalated quartz is mostly found in Brazil.
The finest quality blue tourmaline can be found for $100-$300/carat, whereas pink-red tourmaline is available are $400-$700/carat.
Tourmaline is the birthstone for October, and the stone associated to the zodiac sign of Leo. Tourmaline is the accepted gemstone for the 8th wedding anniversary.