History Of Tourmaline

The ancient Egyptians had a legend about tourmaline gemstones. They believed that these stones got their amazing colors because they broke through a rainbow while pushing their way up through the earth. It’s a lovely story, isn’t it? The next time you give someone a piece featuring a tourmaline, tell them it’s more than a gemstone: It’s a rainbow fragment!

 

At Hamra Jewelers, tourmalines are one of our favorite colored gemstones, as they offer such an impressive variety of colors.. Here’s the history behind these multicolored marvels.

 

Related: The History Of The Sapphire

What Are Tourmalines?

Most tourmalines are elbaites, which are multi-colored minerals that are rich in sodium, aluminum, lithium, and occasionally copper. They usually form in granite-containing pegmatites. Pegmatites are rare igneous rocks that are rich in exotic elements. Often tourmalines of several different colors can be found in the same body of pegmatite. This is why tourmaline mines produce such a wide array of colors.

 

Tourmaline comes in a staggering variety of colors. This stone has one of the widest color ranges of all gems! Some color varieties are so prominent and popular that they’ve gained their own trade names. These types of tourmalines include:

 

  • Rubellite: Tourmaline that is red, purplish red, brownish red, orangy red, or pink.

  • Paraiba: An intense greenish blue, only found in the state of Paraiba, Brazil.

  • Chrome: Intense green

  • Watermelon: Pink in the center and green around the outside

 

Tourmalines can also be composed of dravite, schorl, or liddicoatite. These minerals don’t form gemstones as often or as easily as Elbaites do, though. Schorl creates “black” tourmalines that are dark, opaque, and shiny. Dravite tourmalines are usually opaque and brownish in color. Some varieties of Dravite are transparent, while other dark brown forms of it are heat-treated to give it a lighter color. Liddicoatite is the rarest of the tourmaline minerals; Most tourmalines that come from Liddicoatite are multicolored.

 

All colored tourmalines have pleochroic properties. This means that their color changes when viewed at different angles. Some stones can also display a cat’s-eye effect known as chatoyancy. This is caused by thin, tube-like inclusions that form within the gem. Chatoyancy most often appears in green, blue, or pink tourmalines.

 

Tourmalines also possess some unique physical qualities. They can become electrically charged through “pyro-electricity” when they’re heated and allowed to cool. Once that happens, they gain a positive charge at one end and a negative charge at the other.

The History of Tourmaline

The name tourmaline comes from the Singhalese words “toramalli”. These words translate as “mixed gems”. It’s believed that the first tourmalines were discovered by conquistadors in Brazil in the 1500s. At the time, these green tourmalines were assumed to be emeralds. It wasn’t until the 1800s when scientists realized that these stones were their own species of mineral.

 

Large deposits of tourmaline have been found stateside in Maine and California. They were extremely popular stones in China, who would eagerly buy up American tourmaline specimens as they were discovered. Until 1912, the American tourmaline trade was booming.  At that time, the Chinese government collapsed and the demand for the stones plummeted. The trade would pick back up when discoveries of deposits in countries like Brazil, Afghanistan, and Madagascar renewed interest in these multicolored beauties.

Where Can They Be Found?

Tourmalines are most commonly found in:

 

  • United States (California & Maine)

  • Brazil

  • Myanmar

  • Tanzania

  • Pakistan

 

Related: The History Of The Ruby

 

Come see our fine selection of tourmalines at Hamra Jewelers. Stop by our showroom, or give us a call at 480-946-5110.

 

The ancient Egyptians had a legend about tourmaline gemstones. They believed that these stones got their amazing colors because they broke through a rainbow while pushing their way up through the earth. It’s a lovely story, isn’t it? The next time you give someone a piece featuring a tourmaline, tell them it’s more than a gemstone: It’s a rainbow fragment!

 

At Hamra Jewelers, tourmalines are one of our favorite colored gemstones, as they offer such an impressive variety of colors.. Here’s the history behind these multicolored marvels.

 

Related: The History Of The Sapphire

What Are Tourmalines?

Most tourmalines are elbaites, which are multi-colored minerals that are rich in sodium, aluminum, lithium, and occasionally copper. They usually form in granite-containing pegmatites. Pegmatites are rare igneous rocks that are rich in exotic elements. Often tourmalines of several different colors can be found in the same body of pegmatite. This is why tourmaline mines produce such a wide array of colors.

 

Tourmaline comes in a staggering variety of colors. This stone has one of the widest color ranges of all gems! Some color varieties are so prominent and popular that they’ve gained their own trade names. These types of tourmalines include:

 

  • Rubellite: Tourmaline that is red, purplish red, brownish red, orangy red, or pink.

  • Paraiba: An intense greenish blue, only found in the state of Paraiba, Brazil.

  • Chrome: Intense green

  • Watermelon: Pink in the center and green around the outside

 

Tourmalines can also be composed of dravite, schorl, or liddicoatite. These minerals don’t form gemstones as often or as easily as Elbaites do, though. Schorl creates “black” tourmalines that are dark, opaque, and shiny. Dravite tourmalines are usually opaque and brownish in color. Some varieties of Dravite are transparent, while other dark brown forms of it are heat-treated to give it a lighter color. Liddicoatite is the rarest of the tourmaline minerals; Most tourmalines that come from Liddicoatite are multicolored.

 

All colored tourmalines have pleochroic properties. This means that their color changes when viewed at different angles. Some stones can also display a cat’s-eye effect known as chatoyancy. This is caused by thin, tube-like inclusions that form within the gem. Chatoyancy most often appears in green, blue, or pink tourmalines.

 

Tourmalines also possess some unique physical qualities. They can become electrically charged through “pyro-electricity” when they’re heated and allowed to cool. Once that happens, they gain a positive charge at one end and a negative charge at the other.

The History of Tourmaline

The name tourmaline comes from the Singhalese words “toramalli”. These words translate as “mixed gems”. It’s believed that the first tourmalines were discovered by conquistadors in Brazil in the 1500s. At the time, these green tourmalines were assumed to be emeralds. It wasn’t until the 1800s when scientists realized that these stones were their own species of mineral.

 

Large deposits of tourmaline have been found stateside in Maine and California. They were extremely popular stones in China, who would eagerly buy up American tourmaline specimens as they were discovered. Until 1912, the American tourmaline trade was booming.   At that time, the Chinese government collapsed and the demand for the stones plummeted. The trade would pick back up when discoveries of deposits in countries like Brazil, Afghanistan, and Madagascar renewed interest in these multicolored beauties.

Where Can They Be Found?

Tourmalines are most commonly found in:

  • United States (California & Maine)

  • Brazil

  • Myanmar

  • Tanzania

  • Pakistan

 

Related: The History Of The Ruby

 

Come see our fine selection of tourmalinesat Hamra Jewelers. Stop by our showroom, or give us a call at 480-946-5110.