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Tourmaline properties

tourmaline, history and healing properties
"Dying with roses" ring with pink tourmaline or rubellite

The name tourmaline encompasses several minerals from the silicate family. It is a crystal that appears in the form of elongated rods or needles grouped together in a network. Its cross-section is triangular with curved faces.

Tourmaline is a fascinating crystal that belongs to the silicate family. Its name actually refers to a group of minerals with various properties. It often appears in the form of elongated rods or needles, which can be grouped together in a network. Its cross-section is generally triangular, with curved faces that give it a unique appearance.

The name tourmaline, of Sinhalese origin (the language of Sri Lanka), is a tribute to the richness of its colors. Indeed, "thuramali" or "thoramalli" literally means "the stone with a thousand colors" or "stone with mixed colors". This name perfectly reflects the chromatic diversity of tourmaline, which can display a palette ranging from pink to green, through blue, yellow, purple, and even black.

Tourmaline is a highly prized semi-precious stone for its diversity of colors and exceptional quality, which can rival those of precious stones.

Tourmaline is a stone of striking beauty, whose translucent appearance is enhanced by a surprisingly varied color palette. These colors are the result of the interaction of tourmaline with other surrounding minerals during its growth. For example, when irradiated by the natural gamma rays of granite, it can display shades ranging from pale pink to red, creating unique and captivating nuances.

The different varieties of tourmaline are often designated by specific names, but a recent trend is to name them simply by adding the attribute of their color to "tourmaline". However, it is still useful to know the traditional names. Here are some examples:

  • Buergerite or Fluo-buergerite (bronze tourmaline, black and brown, black)
  • Chromifere (rare green tourmaline)
  • Chromium-dravite (black green tourmaline)
  • Dravite (brown tourmaline)
  • Elbaïte (different colors tourmaline)
  • Feruvite (brown black tourmaline)
  • Fluor-liddicoatite (light brown tourmaline, from pink to red, green, blue, rarely white)
  • Fluor-uvite (orange tourmaline)
  • Foitite (indigo black purple tourmaline)
  • Indicolite (indigo tourmaline)
  • Olenite (light pink tourmaline)
  • Paraiba (turquoise blue tourmaline, neon blue)
  • Povondraite (black tourmaline)
  • Rossmanite (pale pink tourmaline, pink)
  • Rubellite (from pink to red tourmaline)
  • Santa Rosa (emerald green tourmaline)
  • Schorl (black tourmaline)
  • Schorl-f (pale brown tourmaline, grey brown)
  • Uvite (black, greenish black)
  • Vanadiumdravite (dark green tourmaline, black)
  • Verdelite (or green tourmaline)

Tourmaline, much like diamond, possesses practical properties that make it a versatile gemstone, far beyond just an ornament. For instance, it is pyroelectric, meaning it accumulates opposite electric charges at its ends when heated. This characteristic makes it useful for attracting dust or small pieces of paper, and it is therefore used in some devices to eliminate static electricity.

History, legends and beliefs about tourmaline

tourmaline, history and healing properties
"Berlingot" necklace, anklet, bracelet with green tourmaline

In Sri Lanka, the birthplace of tourmaline, a fascinating legend tells that this semi-precious stone descended from the sky to Earth. During its journey, it is said to have passed through or slid on a rainbow, which would have imbued its crystals with its infinite color variations. This is how tourmaline received its name, meaning "the stone with a thousand colors," in homage to this poetic and mystical story.

Tourmaline is a mineral that dates back to antiquity, being known since the 3rd century BC. However, its wide variety of colors has often led to confusion with other minerals, which has limited the development of specific stories, legends, or beliefs about tourmaline. Despite its ancient use, its late identification as a distinct mineral has given its history a relative brevity, making it almost a recent stone in the world of gemology.

The identification of tourmaline in ancient accounts is often linked to its pyroelectric properties. For example, when the philosopher Theophrastus (-322 to -288) describes a stone he calls lyngourion that has the property of attracting straws and pieces of wood, one can only think that it is tourmaline.

During the 18th century, the Dutch mentioned a stone they called "asshentrekers" or "ash drawers". It was a stone they used to clean their pipes and had the property of attracting ashes... once again, tourmaline.

In the 16th century, a Spanish conquistador discovered a green tourmaline in Brazil, which he initially mistook for an emerald because of its similar color. This misidentification triggered a real rush to these regions, with explorers and emerald seekers rushing to find these gemstones. This anecdote illustrates the frequent confusion between tourmaline and other gems, and shows how this stone has often been underestimated or misidentified in the history of gemology.

It was only in the 19th century that the misidentification of tourmaline was corrected. It was a Dutch merchant who, after hearing the miners of Sri Lanka use the term "thuramali" to refer to all the colored stones on the island, attributed this term to tourmaline.

tourmaline, history and healing properties
"Valentina" ring with pink tourmaline

Many tourmalines have a unique history due to confusion with precious gemstones. For instance, numerous stones in the Russian crown jewels from the 17th century, long mistaken for rubies, are actually tourmalines. This confusion is understandable, as tourmalines can exhibit a deep and intense red color, similar to that of rubies.

Tourmaline is increasingly appreciated and sought after today, but it was certainly Empress Cixi, or Tseu-Hi, who ruled China from 1861 to 1908, who was its greatest fan. She collected tourmaline objects and set the fashion at the imperial court. She eventually gathered sculptures, brooches, watch attachments, clothing buttons, and many other items, all adorned with tourmaline. She now rests on a tourmaline cushion, a tribute to her passion for this precious stone.

Tourmaline became the official birthstone of October in 1912. It is traditionally given to celebrate the 52nd wedding anniversary, symbolizing the longevity and stability of a union that has stood the test of time.

Mines: Afghanistan, Australia, Brazil, Russia, Thailand, Angola, Burma, Tanzania, Nigeria, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, India, Italy, Elbe Island, the USA.

Healing properties and benefits of tourmaline

Tourmaline, the gemstone with a thousand nuances, is renowned for its varied therapeutic virtues. Here is an overview of its benefits:

  • Nerve and anxiety relief: Tourmaline is known for its calming effect on the nerves, helping to soothe anxiety and stress.
  • Detoxification and body purification: It is also known for its detoxifying properties, helping to eliminate toxins from the body and purify the blood.
  • Treatment of ear infections: Tourmaline is often used to treat ear infections, thanks to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Hormone regulation: It can help regulate hormonal imbalances, which can be beneficial for women suffering from symptoms related to menopause or premenstrual syndrome.
  • Digestive system support: Tourmaline is known to support digestive system health, helping to relieve gastrointestinal problems such as bloating and abdominal pain.
  • Bone and tooth strengthening: It is also known for its bone and tooth strengthening properties, which can be beneficial for people suffering from osteoporosis or dental problems.
  • Blood circulation improvement: Tourmaline can help improve blood circulation, which can be beneficial for people suffering from circulatory problems such as varicose veins or heavy legs.
  • Water retention reduction: It can also help reduce water retention, which can be beneficial for people suffering from water retention problems such as edema or swelling.
  • Virility and sexual intercourse improvement: By increasing blood flow, tourmaline can also improve virility and sexual intercourse.
  • Cancer-related pain relief: It can help relieve cancer-related pain, thanks to its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Skin problem treatment: Finally, tourmaline is also used to treat skin problems such as acne, eczema, or psoriasis, thanks to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

⚠ Please note that all healing properties presented for gemstones are gathered from various sources. This information is provided as a service and is not intended to treat medical conditions. It is recommended to consult a healthcare professional for serious medical issues and not to rely solely on gemstones as a treatment.

Tourmaline jewelry samples

Tea rose, Flower ring in sterling and pink tourmaline
181.00 Euros
Berlingot, sterling silver necklace, anklet, bracelet
Valentina, birthstone ring in sterling silver and pink tourmaline

To learn more about litotherapy, we recommend you the following books:

Crystalpedia: the wisdom, history, and healing power of more than 180 sacred stones
Around 27.00 US dollars
Crystals for healing: the complete reference guide with over 200 remedies for mind, heart & soul
Around 17.00 US dollars
Crystals for beginners: the guide to get started with the healing power of crystals
Around 15.00 US dollars