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Learning Library

Tourmaline Gemstone

Tourmaline  has  been  fascinating  its owners  for  thousands  of  years,  although it was not identified as a gem variety in its  own right until 1703, when a parcel of mixed gems  was  sent  from  Ceylon  to  Holland. The package was simply labelled “turmali”,  which translates from Sinhalese to “mixed precious  stones”.  The  legend  goes  that children playing on Dutch streets with the  stones found that they attracted dirt particles as they were heated by the sun. On showing the  strange  effect  to  their  parents,  they passed  the  stones  to  a  local  gemmologist who  realised  they  were  a  unique  mineral group,  and  he  later  named  them  after  the  label on the original package.

This  unique  ability  to  attract  particles  is known as pyroelectricity. When Tourmalines are  heated or rubbed they create an electrical charge,  and for this reason non gem-quality specimens  are used in electrical devices. 

Early observers of the gemstone believed that its  wide variety of colours was thanks to the gem  being  formed  whilst  passing  over  a  rainbow  and  absorbing  all  of  its  magical  shades.  This  exquisite gemstone naturally occurs in a myriad  of  stunning  colours  and  its  crystal  structure  makes it look like it is almost pre-faceted by  Mother  Nature.  Tourmaline  is  rarely  found  colourless.  As  with  other  gemstone  families, the presence of different chemicals during the time  the  gem  was  crystallising  has  provided  Tourmaline with an array of spectacular colours.

When a deep, vivid green, they are often rich in  chromium  and  are  sometimes  named  Chrome  Tourmaline. Iron-rich Tourmalines are normally  black  to  deep  brown  and  magnesium-rich  varieties can occur in a yellowish brown colour.  Lithium-rich Tourmalines come in a rainbow of  colours.

Members of the Tourmaline family are not from  the  same  crystal  structure  and  their  chemical  compositions also vary. What they do have in  common is that they all occur in nature as long,  thin, straight gems and usually have a triangular  cross-section.

Tourmaline  is  pleochroic,  which  means  you  can  see  different  colours  when  viewed  from  different  angles. As  well  as  being  pleochroic,  the crystals may grow to be green at one end  and pink at the other: this variety is called Bi- Coloured Tourmaline. When found with green  on the outside and pink inside, they are known  as Watermelon Tourmaline.

Throughout  history,  Tourmaline  was  often  mixed  up  with  other  beautiful  gemstones.  Green Tourmaline was said to be confused with  Emerald.   The folklore and legend surrounding  Tourmaline has only begun to emerge in the last  few hundred years. Black Tourmaline (known as  Schorl)  has  been  associated  with  grieving. Tourmaline is considered a good luck gem and is  sometimes  referred  to  as  the  “stone  of  wisdom”. It is also said to be “resistant to all  vagaries of fate” – in other words it protects  the person wearing it from ill fortune. It is  the  gemstone  of  friendship,  relationships  and love, and is said to help strengthen and  intensify these. Believed to possess healing  warmth,  if  you  hold  the  gemstone  it  has  been said it can balance your “prana,” the  energy  of  your  soul.  Wear  the  gemstone  as a talisman and it will bring to you good  friends and good lovers. It is also said that  Tourmalines  encourage  artistic  intuition.  In fact, Tourmaline is known to have many faces and expresses every mood!

Tourmalines  are  found  in  various  parts  of  the  world;  however,  most  on  the  market  today are from Brazil. That said, there  is a  Tourmaline mine in Maine, California that  has been in operation since 1822.

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A Tourmaline necklace displaying all the

different colours of Tourmaline