Tourmaline is one of the world’s most popular gemstones that comes in various colors and sizes. It’s found worldwide, but some of the most sought-after varieties come from Brazil, Sri Lanka, and Africa. Tourmaline has been used for centuries as an ornamental stone in jewelry, and its healing properties. In addition, its unique coloration makes it popular among collectors who appreciate its beauty and versatility.
In this blog post, we will explore the properties, meanings, and uses of Tourmaline stones.
What is Tourmaline?
Tourmaline is a complex boron silicate mineral and can occur in various shades and combinations of colors. It is found in granite, pegmatite, metamorphic rocks, and alluvial deposits.
Tourmaline is a versatile stone that is used in different types of jewelry and many different color combinations. It has been used for ages for its healing properties, believed to help with mental clarity, emotional balance, and physical well-being. In modern times it has become popularly known as the “electric stone” because it produces an electrical charge due to its pyroelectric nature when heated or rubbed.
How is Tourmaline Formed?
Tourmaline is formed through hydrothermal alteration, in which hot fluids circulate through existing rocks, leaving behind Tourmaline mineral crystals. The process typically occurs in areas of high heat and pressure, such as granite, pegmatite, and metamorphic rocks. The fluids that create this mineral can also transport other elements and minerals, giving it a wide range of colors. For example, iron gives it a green color, while manganese can give it a pink or red color.
The complexity of tourmalines’ chemical makeup has led to the recognition of more than a dozen distinct mineral species within this group. In addition, this extremely variable chemical formulation results in a wide selection of colors.
Physical Properties of Tourmaline
|Chemical Classification||Boron silicate|
|Pleochroism:||Distinct to strong|
|Hardness (Mohs scale)||7 to 7.5|
|Refractive Index||1.614 to 1.666|
|Specific Gravity||2.9 – 3.1|
|Transparency||Transparent, Translucent ,Opaque|
Etymology of Tourmaline
The word “Tourmaline” comes from the Sinhalese word “turamali,” which means “mixed colored stones.” Therefore, this is a fitting name, as it can be found in many colors, as previously mentioned.
One of the first testimonies of tourmaline in USA California dates back to 1892. At the end of the nineteenth century, the mineral was distinguished as an American gemstone through the works of Tiffany gemologist George F. Kunz. He discussed the quarries of Maine and California and commended the gems extracted from them. However, it was not until later in the 19th century that scientists realized that Tourmaline was not a single mineral but a group of minerals that shared similar physical properties but varied in chemical composition.
Where is Tourmaline Found?
Tourmaline is a semi-precious gemstone that can be found in various locations around the world. It is most commonly found in Brazil, Sri Lanka, Africa, and the United States. In Brazil, it’s primarily mined from Minas Gerais and Bahia states, while Sri Lanka has produced some of the highest quality of this stone for centuries. The stone can also be found throughout many African countries, such as Nigeria, Madagascar, and Tanzania, as well as other parts of Asia, including Afghanistan and Pakistan. The United States produces this mineral mainly from California, but they are also present in Maine, New Hampshire, and Connecticut too!
- Sri Lanka
Tourmaline is a highly varied gemstone and can occur in various colors and color combinations, due to the presence of different trace elements. As a result, the appearance of can vary greatly. Some common color variations include:
Black Tourmaline: Black color, also known as Schorl, is the most common type and is usually opaque with a dark black color.
Green Tourmaline: Green color, also known as Verdelite, can range from pale green to deep emerald green.
Blue Tourmaline: Blue color, also known as Indicolite, can range from pale blue to deep blue.
Pink Tourmaline: Pink color, also known as Rubellite, can range from pale pink to deep red.
Yellow, brown, purple, and other colors are also found, but they are less common.
In some cases, a single crystal of Tourmaline can have more than one color, making it a bi-color or tri-color stone. For example, a crystal might be green on one end and pink on the other, or it can have a yellow center with a green exterior. This multicolored appearance is due to mineral content and chemistry variations during the crystal’s formation, giving it a unique and interesting look.
The mineral can also be a transparent, translucent, or opaque gemstone. The transparent ones are more valued for jewelry, as they allow more light to pass through, making them more sparkling. It can also have a good luster and a glassy or vitreous appearance, with a good polish.
It is also known as the “rainbow stone” for the wide variety of hues it can appear in. The most common types are black, green, pink, blue, and red, but they can also be found in yellow, brown, purple, and other colors.
Types of Tourmaline
Gemologists and Jewelers use trade names for different types of this gemstone with their clients. Gemologists use properties like colors and chemical composition to define its species. The most common tourmaline species are elbaite, liddicoatite, dravite, uvite, paraíba, Watermelon and schorl.
Schorl: This is the most common variety of Tourmaline, typically black. It is often opaque and is found in granite and other igneous rocks.
Rubellite Tourmaline: This variety ranges in color from pink to red, and is often used in jewelry. Its color can be quite intense and is highly prized.
Indicolite Tourmaline: This variety is blue, ranging from pale blue to deep blue. It is a relatively rare variety and is highly sought after by collectors.
Verdelite Tourmaline: This is a green variety of this gem that ranges from pale green to deep emerald green. It is often found in granite and other igneous rocks.
Achroite Tourmaline: This is a colorless variety of this stone. It is quite rare and is mostly used as a collector’s stone.
Watermelon Tourmaline: This is a combination of pink and green, where the center of the crystal is pink, and the exterior is green, resembling the appearance of a watermelon. This is a desirable variety of this gem and is often used in jewelry.
Parti-colored Tourmaline: Parti-colored variety combines two or more colors within the same crystal. One of the most common combinations is green and pink, but many others are possible. It is a very unique and interesting variety.
Paraiba tourmaline: Paraíba is an intense, azure, aquamarine, or cerulean turmalina originating from the Paraíba state in Brazil.
Each of these varieties has unique characteristics, and all are prized for their beauty and durability.
Tourmaline Value and Price
The value and price of Tourmaline can vary greatly, depending on factors such as carat weight, cut, clarity, and color. Here is a brief overview of how each of these factors can affect the value of this stone:
Carat weight: The carat weight refers to the weight of the stone, which is usually used to determine the value of a gemstone. Generally, the larger the stone, the more valuable it is.
Cut: The cut refers to how well it has been cut and polished. A well-cut piece will have good symmetry, a good polish, and will be proportionate. A poorly cut stone will not have these characteristics and will be less valuable.
Clarity: Clarity refers to any inclusions or blemishes within a piece. A stone with a high clarity will have fewer inclusions and blemishes and be more valuable than one with lower clarity.
Color: Color is one of the most important factors affecting its value. Generally, rich, saturated stone will be more valuable than one with a pale or washed-out color. In addition, some colors, like red and blue, are more valuable than others, and unique colors, such as bi-color or tri-color, are highly prized and can be more valuable.
Other factors, such as origin, can also play a role in determining the value, as stones from certain locations are considered more valuable than others.
In general, the most valuable are those that are large, well-cut, highly transparent, and with a rich and unique color. Although the price can range from a few to tens of thousands of dollars per carat, it depends on these factors and their combination.
How Can You Tell if a Tourmaline Stone is Real?
There are several ways to tell if a Tourmaline stone is real, including visual inspections and testing. Here are a few tests you can do to verify the authenticity of a Tourmaline stone:
Refractive Index Test: The stone has a refractive index (RI) of 1.614 to 1.666. A refractive index test can be done to measure the RI of the stone, which can help determine if it is real.
Specific Gravity Test: It has a specific gravity (SG) of 2.9 – 3.1. A specific gravity test can be done to measure the SG of the stone, which can help determine if it is real.
Hardness Test: The stone has a hardness of 7-7.5 on the Mohs scale. A hardness test can be done to measure the hardness of the stone, which can help determine if it is real.
Ultraviolet Light Test: A UV light test can be done to see if the stone fluoresces, which can help determine if it is real.
Thermal Conductivity Test: It is a good thermal conductor. It can cool down or heat up quickly. A thermal conductivity test can be done to measure the thermal conductivity of the stone, which can help determine if it is real.
Some fake samples can also pass some of the above tests, especially the visual inspections, and sometimes even lab tests are not 100% accurate. Therefore, buying from a reputable dealer who can provide a certificate of authenticity is recommended. Also, keep an eye out for prices too good to be true, as these may indicate a fake or treated stone.
Is Tourmaline a birthstone?
Yes, it is indeed a birthstone. Individuals born in October have two beautiful birthstones to remember their special days – Tourmaline and Opal.
What Does Tourmaline Symbolize?
Tourmaline is a versatile and multifaceted stone that is said to have many different symbolic meanings. Some of the most commonly associated symbolism with it include:
Protection: Historically, Tourmaline was thought to protect from negative energy and evil spirits. It was also believed to protect the wearer from accidents and physical harm.
Healing: The stone is said to have healing properties that can help balance and align the body’s energy centers, known as chakras. It is also said to help with various physical ailments, including depression, anxiety, and stress.
Emotional Balance: It is also believed to help with emotional balance. In particular, it can help you find balance, stabilize, and strengthen your emotions.
Spiritual growth: The gem is thought to be a powerful stone for spiritual growth. It can help you enhance your intuition, increase your self-confidence, and improve your spiritual communication.
Color significance to Promote Inner Energies: The different colors of Tourmaline are also said to have their specific symbolism. For example, black is said to provide grounding and protection, green is said to bring abundance and prosperity, pink is said to promote love and emotional balance, and blue is said to promote communication and self-expression.
Uses of Tourmaline
Tourmaline is a versatile stone that can be used in various ways for jewelry and metaphysical purposes. Some common uses of Tourmaline include:
Jewelry: Tourmaline is a popular gemstone used in jewelry making. Due to its wide range of colors and durability, it can be cut, shaped, and polished into various jewelry styles and designs, such as rings, earrings, bracelets, and pendants.
Healing: It is said to have healing properties and is often used in crystal healing and energy healing. It is said to help balance and align the body’s energy centers, known as chakras, and help with various physical and emotional issues.
Meditation: It is a popular stone for meditation and spiritual practices. Its grounding energy and ability to enhance intuition are believed to help focus the mind and improve the connection to higher spiritual realms.
Environmental Purification: The stone is also used to purify the environment and help neutralize electromagnetic pollution. It is believed that it can help to release negative energy and neutralize electromagnetic radiation, making it a popular choice for feng shui and geobiological practices.
Industrial uses: It is also used in various industrial applications, such as making ceramics and abrasives and polishing other gemstones and glass.
Water treatment: It is used in water treatment systems to help neutralize the pH level, reduce bacterial growth, and enhance the oxygen level.
How To Take Care Of Tourmaline Jewelry?
Tourmaline is a durable and relatively hard gemstone, but it is still important to take proper care of jewelry to keep it looking its best. Here are some tips for taking care of Tourmaline jewelry:
Cleaning: The jewelry can be cleaned with warm, soapy water and a soft-bristled brush. Rinse the jewelry thoroughly and dry it with a soft cloth to remove any soapy residue. Avoid using ultrasonic or steam cleaners, as these can cause damage to the stone.
Storage: Store jewelry in a soft cloth or a lined jewelry box to avoid scratches and nicks. It’s also important to separate the jewelry from other gemstones and metals, as the stone is a good conductor and can scratch other stones.
Wearing: Avoid exposure to harsh chemicals such as bleach or chlorine, as these can damage the stone. Also, be careful when wearing the jewelry while doing activities that may cause scratches or chips, such as sports, gardening, or cleaning.
Repairing: The jewelry made from this stone can be fragile, especially if it is set in prongs. Be sure to have it inspected and repaired, if necessary, by a professional jeweler to avoid losing a stone.
Light exposure: The jewelry can lose its color over time when exposed to prolonged light exposure, especially UV light. It’s a good idea to take it off when you’re in direct sunlight for long periods.
Following these simple care instructions, your jewelry should remain beautiful and in good condition for years to come.
What are the different colors of Tourmaline?
It can be found in many colors, including black, green, pink, blue, red, yellow, brown, and purple. Some stones can even be multicolored, with more than one color in a single crystal.
Is Tourmaline a rare stone?
While some varieties of Tourmaline are rare, such as certain colors and large sizes, overall, it is not considered a particularly rare stone. As a result, some mines can produce a large quantity of these stones.
Is Tourmaline an expensive stone?
The price of this gem can vary widely depending on the variety, size, and quality. Some types can be affordable, while others can be expensive, particularly if they are large, well-colored, and clear.
Is Tourmaline good for jewelry?
Yes, it is a popular gemstone for jewelry making. It’s durable, comes in many colors, and can be cut, shaped, and polished into various jewelry styles.