Tourmaline - a Modern Gemstone

By: Nigel Makin

When discovered at source Tourmaline is usually in long slender crystal shards with different variations of colour running along it's length, finding a crystal with only one colour is a rare occurrence. This wonderfully coloured jewel is a rarity in itself as it is the only gemstone to have three sided prisms in it's crystal structure.
The Tourmaline Gemstone is often given to celebrate eight years of marriage.
Tourmalines are found in a number of regions throughout the globe, with the best sources being Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia on the African continent, and Brazil, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Russia. Within the United States of America, the state of California is an excellent source.

Because the Tourmaline Gemstone comes in such a variety of colours, many different impurities are responsible for the creation of the vast tones that are available.
Inclusions of iron, lithium, calcium, sodium, manganese and magnesium are to name but a few.
The western world was introduced to Tourmaline Gemstones in 1703 when Dutch traders began importing them from Sri Lanka. Jewelry designers love to work with Tourmaline as the many different colour tones available open up an endless stream of ideas, this jewel certainly is a modern Gemstone and it's popularity has sent prices spiralling upwards over the last few years. Tourmaline has a glassy to vitreous lustre and are often faceted using the step or scissor cuts to show off the stones colour or to bring light to a potentially dark stone.

Bi-And Tricolour Tourmalines...many stones consist of two or three different colours, and sometimes more. The variety that springs to everybody's mind is the one known as watermelon, this will normally have a vibrant pink centre representing the flesh of the fruit and be surrounded by a lush green that depicts the rind. Good pink and green stones are found in Africa and Brazil.

Indicolite...are all the different shades of blue stones, from the deep blue of a Sapphire through blue greens and blue turquoise. A high proportion of these gemstones are usually very dark in colour and a common practice is to heat treat them to lighten the colour and make them more appealing to the buyer. Of the standard colours a good blue Indicolite is the most expensive. A violet blue variety known as Siberite is found in Siberia.

Verdalite...is Green Tourmaline with the most common colours being a yellowish green or bottle green. The most valuable and sought after Verdalite is Emerald or chromium green.
Yellow varieties do exist but they are usually a peachy off yellow rather than a good sharp yellow. Africa, Brazil and Sri Lanka offer good specimens.

Rubellite...is varieties of red Tourmaline, the most desirable being the Ruby red.
A good Rubellite will have a lively pink to red colour and these stones are getting more and more popular. A lot of lower grade stones are heat treated to intensify their colouring.
Africa and Brazil are good sources of the red gemstones as well as Madagascar and USA.

Dravite...magnesium impurities are responsible for the colour of these stones, which are normally brown yellow or brown orange. Darker brown gems are often heat treated to lighten them up and make them more appealing. Very often these stones change colour when viewed at different angles making them a popular jewel. Dravite is found in Australia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico as well as California within the United States.

Schorl...the black variety of the modern gemstone and in the most plentiful supply is not used as a gem any longer. However in Victorian times it was a very popular gem that was worn to mourn the dead.

Paraiba Tourmaline...was first mined in the 1980s in the Brazilian state of Paraiba.
This was a wonderful discovery as the mine churned out never before seen intense green, lilac and turquoise blue stones that became known as neon Tourmalines and then Paraiba.
Demand was huge for these gemstones and now that the original source has become exhausted and only a limited amount remains, people are paying very high prices for these jewels.

The name Tourmaline is derived from the Sinhalese word "tura mali" meaning "stone of mixed colours." By heating and cooling as well as applying pressure to a Tourmaline crystal, it will become electrically charged, and attract dust particles, the Dutch who first imported Tourmaline into Europe knew of this effect. They used a heated stone to pull ash from their meerschaum pipes and called this stone "aschentrekker" literally meaning ash puller.
Tourmaline is a powerful influence on love and friendship, giving them permanence and stability. Even after wearing green Tourmaline for just one day, you will feel physically stronger. When a man wears green Tourmaline he will feel stronger, when a woman wears pink Tourmaline it will greatly nourish her feminine nature. Pink Tourmaline is a strong protector for both genders.

Tourmaline Gemstones have a hardness of 7-7.5 on the Moh scale, which makes them a perfect stone for daily wear. Tourmaline is a very difficult stone to match up into pairs as the colour range is so extensive. If Tourmaline stones are rubbed or heated they will become electrically charged, meaning they will attract dust, dirt and fluff, so you will need to clean them more often than other Gemstones. Tourmaline Jewelry is exciting, vibrant and refreshingly colourful and most certainly a modern Gemstone.

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