Tourmaline Varities

by Debjani Banerjee

The recent trend in the jewelry line is to label each tourmaline by its color as opposed to its original name.

Tourmaline is a gemstone occurring in many colors, the crystalline stones come in more than a hundred hues! Scientifically it is a group is a group of minerals related in physical and chemical properties. The origin of the word comes from Sinhalese "turmali" meaning mixed. It is possible to replicate almost any gem with a tourmaline, unless one can actually differentiate it! The mineral elbaite is the most prominent of all its constituents, responsible for all the gem varieties; the others are dravite, schorl, liddicoatite, veredite, tsilaisite, etc. The recent trend in the jewelry line is to label each tourmaline by its color as opposed to its original name. The current gem trade names doing the rounds are as follows.

Every color of tourmaline can be found in Brazil. Pink, green, purple are mined in Tanzania, Kenya, Madagascar, Afghanistan, and Srilanka. Maine has lovely sherbet colors; California has perfect pinks from its famous Himalaya mine, once the favorite of a Chinese empress who had huge quantitities ordered. Tourmaline crystals are long narrow pencil thin crystals cut in long rectangular shapes. Tourmalines are usually cracked and flawed, especially in the pink, red, bicolor varieties, the blues, greens are usually clean and costs can be very high for stones above 10 carats.

Tourmalines can be recognized from other stones by two distinct properties pyroelectricity, when heated and cooled, the stone attracts dust particles. Because of its atomic composition, an electrical charge is generated which causes it to attract light particles. The other is plechroism, the color of the stone changes when held at different angles in varying light. Dark stones can be made lighter with heat-treatment, light pink stones darker with cobalt irradiation technique. Tourmaline is a good choice for jewelry, yet the expensive stones have to be treated with care, rough treatment can scratch the gems, a light rub in warm soapy water is the best care you can take of your new acquisition.