A few weeks ago, I talked about Opal, one of the birthstones for the month of October so as we say good bye to October, I believe this is a great time to talk about and explore October’s other gemstone, Tourmaline.
Tourmaline’s name comes from the Sinhalese word “turmali,” which means “mixed.”. Tourmalines come in a wide variety of exciting colors and has one of the widest color ranges of any gem species, occurring in various shades of virtually every hue & because of this, it is easily mistaken for other stones. Many stones in the Russian Crown jewels from the 17th Century once thought to be rubies are actually Tourmalines.
Tourmaline is actually the name of a group of related mineral species. In gemological practice, individual species names are not used. Instead, all are simply termed tourmaline. Tourmaline commonly comes from Tanzania, Madagascar, Brazil, Australia, Sri Lanka, the U.S., and Russia, plus other countries.
Tourmaline’s colors have many different causes and it’s generally agreed that traces of iron, and possibly titanium, induce green and blue colors. Manganese produces reds and pinks, and possibly yellows. Some pink and yellow elbaites might be caused by color centers caused by radiation, which can be natural or laboratory-induced.
Some color variations include:
- Rubellite is a name for pink, red, purplish red, orangy red, or brownish red tourmaline. It is one of the rarest and most valuable tourmalines. Many gems in the 17th century Russian Crown jewels, originally thought to be rubies, are actually rubellite tourmalines.
- Indicolite is dark violetish blue, blue, or greenish blue tourmaline. It is another rare tourmaline color, and high quality specimens are regarded as quite collectable.
- Paraíba is an intense violetish blue, greenish blue, or blue tourmaline from the state of Paraíba, Brazil. It is generally found in comparatively small sizes for tourmaline. Recent finds of copper content tourmaline in Nigeria and Mozambique have also produced similar bright neon tourmaline.
- Chrome tourmaline is intense green. In spite of its name, it’s colored mostly by vanadium, the same element that colors many Brazilian and African emeralds.
- Watermelon tourmaline is pink in the center and green around the outside. Crystals of this material are typically cut in slices to display this special arrangement.
Quick Facts about Tourmaline
~ Tourmaline is the gem of the eighth anniversary.
~ Tourmaline comes in a variety of colors
~ An unusual characteristic of this stone is that tourmaline can be electrically charged by heating and cooling, or also applying pressure, such as rubbing the stone
~ You can see different colors or depths of color when viewed at different angles, such as when you rotate the stone in the light.
Sources: GIA, Gemselect, Google Images