Emmanuelle Guyon jewelry, goldsmith, silversmith and painter
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Tourmaline characteristics

The word tourmaline gathers several minerals from the silicate family. It is a crystal that you can find as sticks or elongated needles. It gathers as networks. Its section is triangular with curved faces.

The name of tourmaline comes from thuramali or thoramalli in Sinhala language, the language of Sri Lanka that means "the thousand colors stone" or "stone with mixed colors".

It is a very much appreciated semi-precious stone due to its variety of colors and to its quality. It can easily compete with precious stones.

Tourmaline is translucent with very different colors according to other minerals dwelling next to it and that irradiates the stone during its growth. For example, if it is exposed to the natural gamma rays of granite, it will show a color varying from a pale pink to a red color.

The different varieties of tourmaline generally have a particular name but lately, the trend is to name them as tourmaline plus the name of its color. We can find some examples here:

  • 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)

Just like diamond, tourmaline owns such useful properties that it can be found outside of the jewelry universe. For example, it has pyroelectric properties: when heated, it accumulates opposed electric charges on its extremities. It is therefore used on some machines to avoid static electricity.

History, legends and beliefs about tourmaline

In Sri Lanka (the origin of its name), a legend says that tourmaline would have come down to earth from the sky. During its travel, it would have crossed or would have slipped down on a rainbow that would have given its infinite variations of color. And this is why it is called "the thousand colors stone".

Tourmaline would be known since the third century B.C. but because of its great variety of colors, it was often confused with other minerals. This is why there are only a few stories, legends or beliefs linked to tourmaline. In spite of having been used from remote times, its late identification transformed it to a recent stone with a short history.
When we can identify tourmaline in old manuscripts, it is thanks to its pyroelectric properties. For example, the philosopher Theophraste (-322 to -288) describes a stone named lyngourion which has the property of attracting straw and chunks of wood. You can only think of tourmaline.

During the 18th century, Netherland people would evoke a stone named "asshentrekers" or "ash drawer". It was a stone that was used to clean pipes and that could attract ashes… once again, tourmaline.

During the 16th century, a Spanish conquistador discovered a green tourmaline in Brazil and identified it as emeralds. This discovery provoked a rush to these regions searching for these famous emeralds. This is only an example among others.

It is only in the 19th century that the mistake was corrected and that tourmaline was identified as such. It would be a Netherland merchant who had given the word of tourmaline, which was used by minors in Sri Lanka. The word thuramali would refer to all the colored stones that were found on the island.

Numerous tourmalines have a special history due to the confusion with precious stones. For example, some amazing jewels of the British crown jewels were made with tourmalines. For a long time, it was thought that they were exceptional precious stones. We can quote the Timur Ruby, a jewel of 352 carats that was thought to be a ruby until 1851. Or the ruby of the Black Prince of 170 carats owned by the Imperial court which is actually a tourmaline.

Tourmaline is more and more appreciated and people are more and more looking for this stone. However, it was certainly the empress Cixi, or Tseu-Hi, who reigned in China from 1861 to 1908 who was the biggest fan of this stone. She would collect tourmaline objects and imposed the trend to the imperial court. She succeeded in gathering sculptures, brooches, clip shows, clothes buttons… she finally rests on a tourmaline cushion.

Tourmaline became the official birthstone of October in 1912. It is also the stone for the 52 years anniversary for marriages.

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

Healing properties of tourmaline

Tourmaline owns different properties due to its variety and colors, but we can give these general properties:

  • It would relieve nerves
  • It would cure blood poisoning and would detoxify the body
  • Tourmaline would eliminate ear infections.
  • It would help regulating hormonal problems.
  • It would help being healthy as well as the digestive system.
  • Tourmaline would strengthen teeth and bones.
  • It would improve blood circulation.
  • It would reduce water retention
  • Because of the increased blood flow provoked by this stone, tourmaline would help in sexual relations.
  • It would relieve pains provoked by cancer.
  • It would be a good treatment for skin problems.

/!\ Please note that all healing properties listed are collected from various sources. This information is offered as a service and not meant to treat medical conditions.

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