Mohs scale hardness: 7-7.5
Tourmaline is one of the most colorful gemstones on earth. It is the chameleon gemstone, many are familiar with pink tourmaline but it is found in the widest range of colors, including black, white and everything in between. The name tourmaline is believed to come from the Sinhalese word turmali, which means “mixed”. Magnificent tourmaline crystals can contain luminescent bands of several colors, from red to green to blue, just like a crystallized rainbow. It is no wonder that tourmaline is known as the “muse’s stone” and is said to stimulate the imagination. Tourmaline was officially registered in 1912 in the American Association of Jewelers.
Tourmaline Characteristics and Chemical Composition
The crystal formation of tourmaline is one of the most complicated. Tourmaline is a chemical combination of primarily silicate, boron and alumunium. The stone's beautiful colors are mostly comes from its chrome, iron, vanadium and manganese, and in some cases copper components.
Although often considered to be a single mineral, tourmaline is actually a group of related minerals. It is a crystal silicate mineral that occurs normally in long, slender columns. Tourmaline is distinguished by its three-sided prisms. The crystal system is hexagonal. Tourmaline is also dichroic, meaning it can change color when it is viewed from different angles and in different light. It also has high double infractions where light can enterr the crystal and divide into two different directions. Tourmaline grows in long crystals parallel to a main axis. Severall prisms can grow together making it desireble for both mineral beauty and gemstone value.
Tourmaline is not only beautiful, it also has practical qualities since it becomes electrically polarized when heated. If tourmaline is heated, its shine will disappear. During heating its color will keep changing and finally become dull but it acquires an alectric charge and can attract pieces of paper or hairs.
Types of Tourmaline
Not only does tourmaline occur in a wide range of colors, but some also combine those colors in a single gemstone called “parti-color” or “bi-color” tourmaline. Tourmaline is often mistaken for other gems, as it comes in shades of blue that mimic sapphires and can also appear as green as an emerald.
The red and pink varieties of tourmaline are sometimes called “rubellite”, a beautiful blue variety is called "indicolite” (also known as indigolite) and the green variety is known as verdelite. Those three are said to be the most valuable colors.
The common colors are chrome (green), paraiba (bright neon blue), cat's eye (striped brown), schorl (black), watermelon (green on the outside and pink on the inside) and dravite (yellows and browns). Siberite is tourmaline of a purple hue. Cat’s eye tourmaline exhibits an effect of “cat’s eye” similar to what is commonly seen in tiger’s eye cabochons. Tourmaline that is green at one end and pink at the other is called as watermelon tourmaline. Liddicoatite is brown, blue or green/pink parti color tourmaline while achroite is the white or colorless tourmaline. No two tourmaline are exactly alike. Heat and irradiation color enhancement of tourmalines is permanent.
All colors of the tourmaline family can be found everywhere around the world. Active mines can be found in Australia, Brazil, Burma, Afghanistan, Africa, Canada, Elba, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Namibia, Kenya, India, Pakistan, Russia, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tanzania, Siberia, Thailand and the United States.
Uses, Healing and Metaphysical Properties
The Chinese aristocracy also combined tourmaline with jade for use in jewelry. In recent years, the beauty of tourmaline has won a following among cutting-edge jewelry designers in the U.S and Europe who have been inspired by the vivid colors and beautiful crystal shapes of the gem. Pink and green tourmaline is now widely available and especially popular. The gem is often cut into rectangular shapes following its naturally long and narrow crystal formations. Tourmaline is also regarded as a birthstone for October and the anniversary gemstone for the 8th of marriage.
It is believed that tourmaline has special properties:
- Be able to strengthen the mind and spirit.
- To heal blood disease, lymph glands, arthritis, heart disease and the nervous system.
- To increase self-confidence, amplify psychic energy and dispel grief and fear.
- Used to promote artistic and creative expression in modern alternative medicine.
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