Tourmaline is not just one gemstone but a family of crystals with a borosilicate base. Largely because of the inclusion of aluminum, iron, magnesium and other elements, tourmaline stone has the greatest range of colors of any other gem. The colors range from colorless to black, and one tourmaline crystal can have more than one color. In this article, we are going to focus on the physical and metaphysical properties of tourmaline.
History of Tourmaline
As a naturally occurring stone that’s found in granite pegmatite, granite and other types of rock, tourmaline stone has been around since the formation of the earth. It became very popular during the 17th century when the Dutch East India Company began to import Ceylonese tourmalines to Europe.
Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, was so abundant in tourmalines that the gem was called the Ceylonese magnet because of its ability to both attract and repel ashes that were still hot. The reason for this is, when the crystal is exposed to pressure and heat, it becomes electrically charged. As a result, it is useful in electrical instruments.
Properties of Tourmaline Stone
The chemical formula of a tourmaline stone can be very complex, which even the Victorian philosopher John Ruskin commented on.
The chemical properties of tourmaline stone follows the template of XY3Z6(T6O18)(BO3)3V3W, with X as calcium, sodium or potassium or vacancy; Y as lithium, magnesium, iron ions, manganese ions, aluminum, chromium ions or vanadium ions; Z as magnesium, aluminum, iron ions, vanadium ions and chromium ions; T as silicon, aluminum or boron; V as hydroxide or oxygen and W as hydroxide, fluorine or oxygen.
Tourmaline stone has a vitreous luster and can be transparent to almost opaque. It’s unusual for a tourmaline to have no inclusions or flaws. A stone with perfect clarity is exceedingly rare and expensive.
The crystal does not have a clearly defined cleavage or a direction where it naturally breaks. It has a hardness rating of 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, with diamond being the hardest at 10. Tourmaline stone is hard enough to scratch glass. It has a specific gravity of 2.8 to 3.3, so will sink if it is put in water. It has a hexagonal crystal system, which means that it forms in crystals which most often have six sides.
Tourmaline stone is a fairly tough stone and has a refractive index of 1.62 to 1.65. The refractive index measures how the gem refracts light or bends it when it enters at an angle. Its birefringence, which is the difference between the highest and lowest refractive indices, is 0.014 to 0.021.
When tourmaline stone is scraped over a streak plate the streak left behind is white if the stone is softer than the plate and colorless when it’s harder than the plate. The colors in a tourmaline crystal change depending on the angle at which they’re viewed, which makes it very pleochroic. The deepest color is seen when looking down the length of the crystal. This can make otherwise green or blue stones appear black. Gem-cutters must take this into account when they cut a tourmaline stone. Many tourmaline crystals have polarity, much like a magnet.
There are 32 types of tourmaline. Different stones have different names and colors based on their chemical composition. Rubellite is a pink or red tourmaline. Colorless tourmalines are anchorites, while blue tourmaline is indicolite. Paraiba tourmaline, which is a sparkling electric blue, is the most expensive. Black tourmaline is called schorl and was not recognized as a type of tourmaline when it was first discovered. Most tourmaline is a type of schorl. The most sought after colors after pink are green and blue, and hues can range from pastel to very intense.
Some tourmaline crystals have different colors at either end, while others have one color in the core and another color forming a rim around it. This can be seen in the famous watermelon tourmaline, which has a pink core surrounded by a green “rind”. This is a very popular type of tourmaline stone, and the more it resembles a slice of real watermelon the more expensive it is. This is unusual for a gemstone, for in gems such as ruby, diamond and sapphire, the more uniform the color, the greater their value.
Tourmaline is usually made into a long emerald cut since many of the rough crystals are long and thin. Large, round examples of tourmaline stone are rare.
Metaphysical Details About Tourmaline Stone
Tourmaline is the birthstone of October. It clears, purifies and lightens denser forms of energy and anchors spiritual energy while it balances the chakras. The energy of the tourmaline stone forms a protective shield around the person who holds it.
Tourmaline protects shamans as they perform their rituals and they use it for scrying. It points out the causes of trouble or points a person in a good direction.
Some tourmaline stones are long enough to be made into wands. Shamans use these gems in healing. They clear blockages and negative energy and guide the holder to solutions to problems. Along with the chakras, tourmaline wands balance the meridians. Meridians are part of a channel of energy that runs just below the skin and contain the acupressure points. Tourmaline can also ease tension and balances the male and female energies in the holder’s body. It is a powerful healer of mental disorders, promotes self-confidence and banishes fear.
Famous Example of Tourmaline
The Ethereal Carolina Divine Paraiba, a flawless, bluish-green tourmaline stone from Paraiba, Brazil weighs 191.87 carats and is the world’s largest gem-cut tourmaline. We can observe it in a necklace by Kaufmann de Suisse that contains diamonds, different colored sapphires, rubies, emeralds and other jewels. The name of the necklace is Paraiba Star of the Ocean Jewels and honors the life of Earth’s oceans.
Where Do We Find Tourmaline?
Today, we find raw tourmaline in Africa, especially Madagascar, Mozambique, Tanzania and Namibia, Brazil, Pakistan, the United States and Russia. Nonetheless, you have high chances of purchasing the stone even from your local jewelry store.
You can find this amazing jewel in any color. An interesting fact: the most sought-after can cost many times more than a diamond of equal beauty. Anyone in love with color will surely appreciate this unique gem.