For centuries tourmalines have adorned the jewels of royalty. The last empress of China valued the rich pink colors of tourmalines above all other gemstones. The people of ancient Ceylon called tourmaline "turmali," the Sinhalese word for "more colors." Perhaps this is why ancient mystics believed tourmaline could encourage artistic intuition: it has the palette to express every mood.
Tourmaline is a crystalline boron silicate mineral compounded with elements such as aluminum, iron, magnesium, sodium, lithium, or potassium. The wide range of compositions, along with trace elements and color centers, causes tourmaline to occur in more colors and color combinations than any other mineral group. Tourmaline is classified as a semi-precious stone.
Tourmaline has a variety of colors. Rarely, it is colorless. Vivid reds, hot pinks, verdant greens, and blues abound in this marvelous gem variety. Earth tones as varied as a prairie sunset are readily available. Not only does tourmaline occur in a spectacular range of colors, but it also combines those colors in a single gemstone called "bi-color" or "parti-color" tourmaline. One color combination with a pink center and a green outer rim is called "watermelon" tourmaline and is cut in thin slices similar to its namesake. Some forms of tourmaline are dichroic, in that they change color when viewed from different directions.
Gem and specimen tourmaline is mined chiefly in Brazil and Africa. Actually, almost every color of tourmaline can be found in Brazil. Some placer material suitable for gem use comes from Sri Lanka. In addition to Brazil, tourmaline is mined in Tanzania, Nigeria, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Malawi.
Care must be observed with these gemstones. Avoid exposing them to harsh abrasives and strong chemical solvents. Your AGTA jeweler will tell you how to best care for your tourmaline.
Tourmaline is the birthstone for October and the gem for the 8th anniversary.