Tourmaline is one of two birthstones associated with October, the other being Opal. In 1952, the American Gem Society and the National Retail Jewelers Council added Tourmaline as one of October’s birthstones. What a happy and fortuitous addition for those born in October! Tourmaline comes in a veritable rainbow of colors and gives tremendously beautiful options to choose from. Indeed, its very name comes from the Sinhalese word toramalli which means stone of mixed colors.
Tourmaline is a Boron Silicate with a hardness of 7-7.5 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. It usually forms long, striated, and prismatic rods and belongs in the Hexagonal (Trigonal) crystal system. Tourmaline comes in a wide variety of colors that range from transparent to almost opaque.
Black Tourmaline is known as the ultimate Protection Stone and is usually the one most people turn to when looking for a stone with strong, protective qualities. Brown Tourmaline (Dravite) is also a powerful protector. Pink Tourmaline and Watermelon Tourmaline are known as Stones of Reconciliation due to the ability to link mind, body and spirit and to help you to release the past in order to reconcile yourself.
Tourmaline is considered to be Piezoelectric. This means an electrical charge can form on both ends when heated or vibrated (rubbed). This is an unusual, unique trait for gemstones and is a special feature in Tourmaline.
Tourmaline is found in most countries but most commonly found in Brazil, who has been the leading source for approximately 500 years. They are also found in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, and other countries in Africa. California and Maine in the United States produce fine specimens, as well.
HISTORY & FOLKLORE
Tourmaline was not recognized as it’s own gem until 1793. Prior to this they were another stone that were mistaken for rubies, sapphires and emeralds. Russian crown jewels from the 17th century contain red tourmaline (Rubellite) instead of the rubies they thought them to be.
Most Tourmaline does not contain copper; however, in 1989 and 1990 they found what was to become the most valuable Tourmaline. The stones are called Paraiba Tourmaline and are named after the locality they were found, mines in Paraiba and Rio Grande Norte, Brazil. The coloration of these stones are intense, vivid blues and greens. The intensity is attributed to trace amounts of copper.
Later, violet specimens were found in the same area. They got their vividness from trace amounts of copper and manganese. In 2001, similar gems were found in Nigeria and Mozambique and they called them Paraiba in order to benefit from the ability to charge more for these stones. This caused a great controversy since most people will pay more for a Paraiba Tourmaline and feel that only those from the original location should be marketed as such. Eventually, they were allowed to continue marketing them this way because gemologists said they were essentially the same in all ways. Why did it matter? Because from the very beginning the Paraiba sold for $2,000 a carat and a quality, faceted 1 carat Paraiba was selling for over $10,000.
Historically, the Aboriginal, Native American and African shamans used Black Tourmaline as a healing tool that could also protect from all dangers originating in the earthly plane. The Egyptians thought Tourmaline journeyed from the center of the earth and traversed over a rainbow thereby taking on all the colors of the rainbow.
A likeness of Alexander the Great that had been carved in tourmaline, dating back to the third century BC was found in India. This culture used tourmaline in rituals and considered it to be a “teller” stone that would direct or provide insight on who or what was causing trouble. The Romans used them to help them sleep and relax and calm their minds.
Dutch traders in the 1700s brought them to Europe and used them to pull ashes from their Meerschaum pipes. They called them Aschentrekker or “ash puller” for their ability to attract and repel hot ashes from coals when the stone was laid close to the coals. What a varied history Tourmaline has!
Black Tourmaline is associated with Manat, Arabian Goddess of the Waning Moon, Time, Destiny and Death. Blue Tourmaline is associated with Whope (Wohpe), Lakota Sioux Goddess of Peace. All Tourmaline are associated with Al-Uzza, Nabataean Moon Goddess of the Full Moon and Mothers.