Tourmaline
 
8th Anniversary Gemstone.   For centuries Tourmalines have adorned the jewelry of royalty.   The Empress Dowager Tz'u Hsi, the last Empress of China, valued the rich pink colors of Tourmaline above all gemstones.   The people of ancient Ceylon called Tourmaline, 'rutmali', the Sinhalese word for 'more colors'.
 
Tourmalines are found  in an incomparable variety of colors.    According to an old Egyptian legend, the Tourmaline, on its long journey up from the center of the Earth, passed over a rainbow.    In doing so, it assumed all the colors of the rainbow.   That is why Tourmaline is still referred to as the 'gemstone of the rainbow'.
 
There are Tourmalines from red to green and from blue to yellow.    They often have two or more colors in each crystal.    Some Tourmalines change their color when the light changes from daylight to artificial light, and others show the light effect of a Cat's Eye.    No two Tourmalines are exactly alike.   An exception in gemstones, Tourmaline's different formations are not called by different names; rather the color is added to create the individual name.
 
Mixed crystals of aluminium boron silicate with a complex and changing composition make up Tourmaline.    It is a rather complex mineral group.   Even minor changes in composition cause completely different colors.   For that reason, on one and the same crystal, although it has grown quite naturally, completely different colors can occur, mostly in elongated columns one above the other.   The crystals themselves can be as slim as a knitting-needle or as thick as a man's thigh.   Some display coloration in which the shades vary only slightly, while others have starkly contrasting colors or zones of color.    Since Tourmaline crystals have often grown in close proximity to one another, their cross-sections can also contain triangles which are closely joined together and gathered around a nucleus.
 
 
Cutting Tourmalines requires a good deal of patience and plenty of experience.    Few lapidaries know their way around all the peculiarities of this gemstone or have sufficient knowledge of its extraordinarily complex structure to enable them to cut 'difficult' Tourmalines.    There are often areas of tension on the inside of a Tourmaline, which can easily cause the stone to crack when it is being worked on.   The cutter merely has to hold a critical Tourmaline the wrong way against his cutting-wheel once to end up with a completely ruined, valueless stone.   During the cutting process, he must also pay heed to the Tourmaline's well-developed dichroism (two-coloredness).   In the raw crystal, the cutter has to orientate the table surface in such a way as to achieve the best possible color and the best possible weight, while attempting as far as possible to keep out the less beautiful, darker color.
 
Beautiful multi-coloured Tourmalines are particularly well suited to jewelry with unique designs.   Today, gemstones of this kind are very popular. The knowledge that one is practically certain to be looking at a unique gem has an inspiring effect on goldsmiths and designers alike, so they look forward to working with this stone and making it the heart of some attractive, individual jewelry creation.
 
It is not only designers who love the Tourmaline with its inspiring variety of color.    Scientists are also interested in it due to its astonishing physical qualities, for Tourmalines can become electrically charged when they are heated and then allowed to cool.   At that point, they have a positive charge at one end and a negative one at the other.   This is known as 'pyro-electricity', derived from the Greek word 'pyr', meaning fire.   The gemstone also becomes charged under pressure, the polarity subsequently changing when the pressure is taken off.    When the charge changes the Tourmaline begins to oscillate, similar to a rock crystal but much more pronouncedly.   The Dutch, who were the first to bring the Tourmaline to Europe, were familiar with this effect a long time before it was able to be proven with a scientific explanation.   They used a heated Tourmaline to draw up the ash from their meerschaum pipes and called the gemstone with its amazing powers an 'aschentrekker'.
 
In the fascinating world of gemstones, the Tourmaline is very special.    Its high availability and glorious, incomparable color spectrum make it one of our most popular gemstones - and apart from that, almost every Tourmaline is unique.
 
 
Colors, Names and Nicknames
 
In order to understand this variety of color, you will have to brush up on your knowledge of gemology.    A fairly complex mineral group, Tourmalines are mixed crystals of aluminium boron silicate with a complex and changing composition.   As stated before, even slight changes in the composition cause completely different colors.    Crystals of only a single color are rare.    The trademark of this gemstone is not only its great wealth of color, but also its marked dichroism.    Depending on the angle from which you view it, Tourmaline may differ in color or intensity.    The color of Tourmaline is always at its most intense when viewed looking toward the main axis, a fact to which the cutter must pay great attention when lining up the cut.    This gemstone has excellent wearing qualities and is easy to maintain, for all Tourmalines have a good hardness of 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs Scale.
 
Each individual color variant has its own name.   Tourmaline crystals with two colors are known as bi-coloured Tourmalines, and those with more than two as multi-colored Tourmalines.    Slices showing a cross-section of the Tourmaline crystal are also very popular because they display, in a very small area, the whole of the incomparable color variety of this gemstone.    If the center of the slice is red and the area around it green, the stone is given the nickname 'Watermelon Tourmaline'.   Although there are plenty of gemstone deposits which contain Tourmalines, good qualities and fine colors are not often discovered among them.    For this reason, the price spectrum of the Tourmaline is almost as broad as that of its color.
 
 
Rubellite
 
A Tourmaline of an intense red is known as a 'Rubellite', but only if it continues to display the same fine ruby red in artificial light as it did in daylight.   The Rubellite is a particularly beautiful gemstone from the colorful family of Tourmalines.    Its color shines in the most beautiful nuances from red to shocking pink, an intense violet and a bold ruby-red.    However, only a few of these are entitled to call themselves 'Rubellites'.   The name comes from the Latin 'rubellus', which means reddish.    Rubellites are not merely Red or Shocking Pink Tourmalines.  There is an important criterion for this especially beautiful gemstone; and that is the way its color behaves in daylight and artificial light.   Many gemstones change their color depending on the light source.   A true Rubellite does not.    It shines just as intensely in artificial light as it does in daylight.   The color of most other Pink or Red Tourmalines, by contrast, displays a more or less clearly visible tinge of brown in artificial light.
 
 
While colored gemstones in good qualities should, as a rule, be as free of inclusions as possible, they are looked upon with some favor in the case of the Rubellite; for it is inclusions that render this stone really interesting.   The inclusions should be subtle, and they must not upset the way the light passes through this magnificent gemstone, as that could make it look cloudy or milky.    Nevertheless, a Rubellite with only a few fine inclusions is, of course, more valuable than one with inclusions which are clearly visible.
 
Rubellites are cut in various ways, though the cutter must take account of the varying intensity of the color.    Rubellites are mainly found in Brazil, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria and Pakistan.    Some beautiful Shocking Pink Rubellites come from a gemstone mine in the USA.
 
 
Pink/Shocking Pink Tourmaline
 
A Tourmaline of an intense Pink which changes color when the light source does is called a Pink or Shocking Pink Tourmaline.   
 
 
Indigolites
 
Blue Tourmalines are also known as 'Indigolites'.     Pure Blue Tourmalines are much coveted for their beauty and rarity.   In fine qualities, Blue Tourmalines are almost always one-offs.    They are also highly esteemed by collectors.    They are at their most valuable when they show an intense, clear, radiant blue which is not too dark, the kind of blue that puts one in mind of an Aquamarine or a beautiful Sapphire.    If you are lucky enough to come across a Blue Tourmaline, don't hesitate!    The pleasure you derive from this beautiful and rare gemstone will be long lasting.
 
These rare blue gemstones originate mostly in North Brazil, where the magnificent Turquoise Paraiba Tourmalines were also discovered.    However, they are also found today in the gemstone mines of Namibia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.
 
 
Dravites
 
A Tourmaline with a yellowish-brown to dark brown color is known as a 'Dravite'.
 
 
Schorl
 
Black Tourmaline is known as 'Schorl'.    It is primarily used for engravings and in esotericism.   On the other hand, if the crystal is almost colorless and black at the ends only, it is called a 'Mohrenkopf' (resembling a certain kind of cake popular in Germany).
 
 
Verdelite
 
One particularly popular variety is the green Tourmaline, known as a 'Verdelite' in the trade.    Green is regarded as the classical Tourmaline color.
 
 
Chrome Tourmaline
 
Tourmaline is often thought of as green, however, if its fine Emerald-like green is caused by tiny traces of chrome, it is referred to as a 'Chrome Tourmaline'.
 
 
Paraiba Tourmaline
 
The absolute highlight among the Tourmalines is the 'Paraiba Tourmaline', a gemstone of an intense blue to blue-green which was not discovered until 1987 A.D. in a mine in the Brazilian state of Paraiba by Heitor Dimas Barbosa.   These cupriferous Tourmalines from the Mina da Batalha in the Federal Brazilian State of Paraiba are small, rare and precious.   Their spirited Turquoise to green colors are rarely found in any other gemstone in the world.   Normally, iron, manganese, chrome and vanadium are the elements responsible for the beautiful coloring in Tourmalines.    The Paraiba Tourmaline is different; it owes its splendid color to copper, an element which has never before been observed in a Tourmaline.    A fair proportion of its weight consists of copper.   But, scientists have discovered that it often also contains manganese.
 
In the Paraiba Tourmaline, the interplay between these two elements gives rise to a variety of fascinatingly beautiful colors: Emerald green, Turquoise to sky blue, Sapphire blue, indigo, bluish-violet, and purple.    Certain proportions in the mixture of copper and manganese can also result in pale grey to violet-blue tones.    Copper in high concentrations is responsible for the highly coveted radiant blue, Turquoise and green hues, while violet and red tones are caused by manganese.    By means of the burning technique, experienced cutters can eliminate the red color components, with the result that only a pure copper color remains.
 
The extraordinary vividness of the Paraiba Tourmaline does not reveal itself until the stone has been cut.   When faceted, they scintillate an unusual 'fire' and appear to glow intensely even when there is very little light.   For this reason, their color is often referred to as 'electric' or 'neon'.
 
The exclusiveness of this legendary find makes these rare gemstones real treasures. Heitor Dimas Barbosa was more than just someone looking for gemstones.    He was absolutely convinced that somewhere beneath the 'Paraiba hill' - famous today - he was going to find something 'completely different'.    In 1981 A.D. he began the first excavations of an old, dilapidated opencast mine.    One deep hole after another was drilled in the hard ground - without success.    Five and a half years after the cut of the first spade, the first signs of a Tourmaline find manifested themselves in the tangle of galleries, shafts and tunnels.    Finally, in the autumn of 1989 A.D., a handful of the finest Tourmaline crystals were brought up into the daylight from one of the many galleries - in colors people had so far only been able to dream.   Unfortunately, just at that time, the 'father of Paraiba Tourmalines' was recoverying from an illness and was not able to be present at the mine.    Indeed, the first raw crystals were sold without his having seen them!   When word of the find spread, there was a period of frantic activity at the mine.   For a further five years, the now-famous hill, only 400 metres long, 200 metres wide and 65 metres high, was combed and even razed to the ground in places.   But it was all for nothing.   There is now hardly any expectation that further finds will be made.
 
 
In good qualities, these gemstones are much sought-after treasures today.
 
 
Canary Tourmalines
 
Since Tourmalines from Malawi with a vivid yellow color, known as 'Canary Tourmalines', came into the trade, the color yellow, which was previously very scarce, has been well represented in the endless spectrum of colors boasted by the 'gemstone of the rainbow'.    In South East Africa, in Malawi, a gemstone deposit with some wonderful Yellow Tourmalines was discovered in the autumn of 2000 A.D.    The fresh, spring-like yellow of these Tourmalines is clear and pure and has just a very fine hint of green.   Under the trade name 'Canary', the new Tourmaline variety has now begun to circulate.
 
This is a particularly interesting kind of Tourmaline.    The electyrifying color is caused by fine traces of magnesium.    Since not all the raw crystals actually show radiant yellow when they are found, some of the stones must first go through a heat-treatment process.   Without this treatment, the color would have a slight brownish tinge.    Because Tourmalines typically display different colors and intensities in different directions, the treatment brings about the desired results.    By heat treatment, the Tourmaline's second color, in this case a light brown, is also transformed into the coveted radiant yellow.    Many gemstones customarily receive this is a kind of treatment, the result of which is irreversible.
 
Large yellow tourmalines are rare in Malawi too, the more so in view of the fact that only some 10 percent of the yield is actually of gemstone quality at all.   When cut, more than 95 percent of the stones weigh less than one carat.   However, they have wonderful wearing qualities, for like all Tourmalines the canary-yellow beauties from Malawi have a good hardness of 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs Scale.
 
Another speciality that distinguishes these gemstones from others is their fine smell.   It is an odor that the person wearing the stone will not notice, but the cutter will while he is giving the raw crystals their final shape with his steady hand and taking great care that the fresh yellow is brought out to the best possible advantage.    Experienced cutters are particularly fond of working on these gemstones, and say that these are the only gemstones that smell good.  Tourmaline crystals are often found embedded in a black material which needs to be removed before cutting begins.  One day, the owner of the gemstone mine in Malawi discovered that the unwanted black material was easier to remove if the raw crystals were first boiled in water to which lemon juice had been added.   Since then, the Yellow Tourmaline crystals from Malawi have had not only the pleasant color, but also the fragrance of fresh lemons.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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