Tourmaline: The Endless Scheme of Colors
From a geological standpoint tourmaline is a large group of baron silicate minerals. In the jewelry world, it is one of the most beautiful and color rich gems. There are 32 individually named minerals that comprise tourmaline. Therefore, tourmaline can occur in pretty much any color or combination of colors that one can imagine. This gemstone is very popular and widespread among jewelry makers.
Tourmaline can be recognized by its prismatic crystals that often have visible striations paralleling their long axis. Also, they are often color zoned through their cross-sections or along their length. The bicolor tourmalines are highly desirable, contrary to most other gemstones, which have a higher value when displaying a single color.
Brazil has been the world’s leading source of tourmaline for nearly 500 years. Portuguese explorers first came across this gem in 1500s when they obtained it from indigenous people but initially thought they found emeralds and sapphires. It was only some 100 years later that they realized it was a different gem. In the last couple of centuries, tourmaline deposits have also been found in other countries including Mozambique, Nigeria, Namibia, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan and United States (Maine and California).
On Mohs scale of hardness tourmaline is ranked anywhere from 7.0 to 7.5. Overall, it is a pretty heavy mineral, resistant to the effect of weathering.
Many meaningful uses and powers have been attributed to tourmaline throughout the years from different parts of the world. It is believed that tourmaline stimulates creative energy and spiritual insight. It also promotes harmony and balance, as well as the inner strength.