Monday, August 20, 2012


This week I decided to do a gemstone post…after checking the Etsy shop of Maryanne Fender to see what colorful stones she had in stock I chose Tourmaline.  Part of the reason for this choice is, I don’t think many people are familiar with this gem…

I’ve not used this semi-precious stone much in the last 6 years as the faceted tourmaline is rather expensive, but I’ve always liked faceted tourmaline, as it has a gorgeous sparkle and shine to it.  Opaque tourmaline is lacking the vibrancy of the faceted gem…at least that is how I feel about the gem.

This is one of the few gemstones which come in a multitude of colors…an Egyptian legend states during its long journey from the center of the earth the tourmaline passed a rainbow, taking on all the rainbows colors, which is why the tourmaline is called the “gemstone of the rainbow”.     

Black Tourmaline Schorl Crystal, Minas Gerais, Brazil

The word Tourmaline comes from “tura mali”, which roughly translates to “stone with mixed colors”.   You certainly can find tourmaline in a mixture of colors; ranging from reds to greens, from blue to yellow, black, pink, often a gem will be two or more colors…some gems will even change color with the light. 

Schorl Black Tourmaline,
 Bold Radiating Starburst Pattern in Schist, 
Vadito Schist, Picuris Mining District, 
Taos County, New Mexico

This gem has many names to correspond with all the different colors…
  • Intense red tourmaline is known as “rubellite” but only if the color doesn’t change with the light…if it changes it is then a pink tourmaline
  • Blue tourmaline are called “indigolites”
  • Yellowish-brown to dark brown tourmalines “dravites”
  • Black tourmaline is called “schorl”
  • Green tourmaline is called “verdelite”, except when the green is due to chromium particles, then it is called “chrome tourmaline”
  • Stones with two colors are called “bi-colored” ones with more than two colors are called “multicolored” tourmaline.
  • I’m sure you’ve heard of or see the “watermelon” tourmaline stone…the center is red/pink with white, then green surrounding it.  This coloring is a rare natural occurrence.   
Watermelon Tourmaline Crystal Gem Rough Slice

Tourmaline has been found in Brazil, Sri Lanka, south & south west Africa, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Pakistan, Afghanistan, USA, mainly in California and Maine.  There are many gemstone deposits with finds of tourmaline but not always great color or quality…which is why there is such a large price difference in these gems.  

Pink Green Tourmaline 
"bubble gum pink"
 Crystal with a 
top-hat of albite,
Paprok, Nuristan,
 Kunar, Afghanistan

   Dark green tourmaline,
Cruzeiro Mine,
 Minas Gerais, Brazil
Facts of interest:
  • Is dichroic…changes color
  • Largest known crystal is 192 carats, with a value of over $25 million
  • The pattern for tourmaline is hexagonal and grows in long prisms, often with several prisms growing together, which adds to the beauty and price of the gem.
  • Blue and green tourmaline can be heated to enhance the color of the gem, which then makes the cost higher.
  • Used to promote artistic and creativity…maybe I should wear something made from this gem?
  • Like most gems, it is believed by those working in alternative medicine this stone has healing powers for both physical and mental issues.
  • Black tourmaline is the most abundant color found. 
  • This gem is a 7 to 7.5 on the hardness scale and breaks easily so wear rings with care, as hitting the stone against anything hard could crack or break the gem.
  • Do not clean in an ultrasonic cleaner…when heated this gem attracts dust so try to keep from heat.
  • Something I found unusual for a gemstone is the tourmaline can be electrically charged by heating and cooling or simply by applying pressure by rubbing the stone…apparently scientists are interested in this unique quality as well.  
  • This gemstone is used in pressure gauges…
  • One of two October birthstones.
For anyone not familiar with this colorful gem it truly is a beautiful stone…especially when it is strung together with a rainbow effect.  Hopefully I’ve created a little interest in this striking gem…I may even see what I can find…if I do I’ll post a photo.
Don’t forget questions and comments are welcome…
 Use of photos courtesy of:
Special thanks to Maryanne Fender of Fender Minerals for allowing the use of their gorgeous gemstones…

Information Source:


  1. Great post Heather. This is another one of my favorite gemstones. First fell in love with it because of the colors. Simply beautiful.
    I have few strands that I plan to wire wrap into a necklace, for myself,..hehe but haven't gotten around to doing it yet.Soon...soon..

  2. Very interesting! I've worked with tourmaline beads a bit because I used to work at a bead shop and it was the boss's favorite! I never knew all these cool facts about it though and this is the first time I've ever seen the black-and I love love love that starburt pattern! Thanks for sharing the Fender Mineral link too:)

  3. Watermelon tourmaline is such a beautiful color! Interesting post this week Heather!


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