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Tourmaline Gemstone Information

Updated on August 1, 2010

Tourmaline Stone Properties

The tourmaline gemstone is one of the most colorful gems you can find on earth. It is highly valuable in the jewelry marketplace. The name tourmaline comes from Sinhalese (Sri Lanka) which means “stone of mixed colors” in English. Tourmaline is softer stone registering 7.0 – 7.5 on Mohs scale of hardness. Its refractive index is 1.615 through 1.655 and the specific gravity is 3.02 through 3.26. Trace of elements that can be found in tourmalines are titanium, iron, chromium, vanadium to manganese and sometimes even copper.

In a chemical lab, a heating and cooling process of tourmaline can make the stone become electrically charged. This cause one end to become negative and the other end to be positive. The stone then can attract small particles such as ash, dust, shavings and even small bits of paper. Heating green and blue tourmaline can also enhance their color and make them more valuable in the jewelry market. The largest known tourmaline is roughly 192 carats, it is valued at over $25 million.

Tourmaline Gemstone

Different colors of tourmaline
Different colors of tourmaline

Types of Tourmaline

Tourmaline comes in a variety of colors including blue, green, yellow, pink, black, bluish black, red, brown and multicolored. The most valuable colors are indicolite (blues and blue-green), rubellite (reds and pinks) and verdelite (greens). The common colors are dravite (yellows and browns), chrome (green), paraiba (bright neon blue), watermelon (green on the outside and pink on the inside), cat's eye (striped brown) and schorl (black). No two tourmaline are exactly alike. The difference lies in colour and facets of the stones. Achroite is the white or colorless tourmaline while liddicoatite is brown, blue or green/pink parti color tourmaline.

Tourmaline of all colors are faceted into gems for use in jewelry. Tourmaline is cut into rounds, triangles, ovals, trillions and cabochons. It is a popular, beautiful and affordable gem. The wide variety of shades also make it versatile.

Since tourmaline is relatively soft, it can scratch easily, therefore clean the mineral form and gemstone with a soft brush or soft cloth, mild soap is also recommended. Do not clean the gems in ultrasonic or steam cleaners. Pieces of tourmaline jewelry should be properly stored when not in use. It should be stored in soft cloth or in a jewelry bag to prevent cracking or other damage.

Mining of tourmaline takes place all over the world. You can find all colors of the tourmaline family around the world. Active mines can be found in Afghanistan, Africa, Australia, Brazil, Burma, Canada, Elba, Kenya, India, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Namibia, Pakistan, Russia, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Siberia, Tanzania, Thailand and the USA.

Tourmaline Healing and Metaphysical Properties

It is the 8th wedding anniversary gemstone, the birthstone of October and the official gem of the Zodiac sign "Leo." The stone was highly desired by royalty in the Far East. Empress Dowager Tzu His (the last Empress of China) was in love with pink tourmaline. In the early 1700s, the Dutch began to import tourmaline from Sri Lanka and the stone became valued in Europe. Tourmaline was officially registered in the American Association of Jewelers in 1912. Tourmaline is also well known in folklore for medicinal purposes and chemical properties.

Tourmaline is known for its healing properties, it is said to strengthen your spirit and mind. The Egyptians used tourmaline for both emotional and physical remedies. They firmly believed that this stone could heal the nervous system, lymph glands and blood diseases. Far Eastern medicine used the tourmaline’s healing powers to treat all illnesses. The gem is believed to increase self-confidence, dispel fear or grief and amplify psychic energy. It aids concentration and improve communication. Tourmaline is also used to treat arthritis, blood disorders, anxiety and heart disease. These gems is still used in modern alternative medicine to promote artistic and creative expression.

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