Alongside opal, tourmaline is the birthstone for October and our chosen Gemstone of the Month.
Legend has it that somewhere in Brazil in the 1500s, a Spanish conquistador washed the dirt from a green tourmaline crystal and confused the vibrant gem with emerald. His confusion lived on for another 300 or so years until scientists finally recognised tourmaline as a mineral species in the 1800s. The confusion about the stone’s identity is reflected in its name, which derives from Sinhalese toramalli, ‘mixed gems’. It’s thought that people have enjoyed and flaunted gem tourmaline for centuries, but until the development of modern mineralogy it’s likely that tourmalines were mistaken for other stones like rubies and sapphires based on their colouring.
Though still one of the lesser-known gemstones, tourmaline takes the crown for being the most colourful. This semi-precious collection of minerals occurs in a wide and exciting range of hues, from intense green (known as chrome tourmaline) to pink, purple, orange, brown (rubellite) and intense blue-violet (indicolite). Though we probably shouldn’t have favourites, at Lebrusan Studio we are particularly taken by peach tourmaline and watermelon tourmaline; the latter a rare variety that’s green on the outside, pink on the inside and often cut into slices as a homage to its fruity lookalike.
Some tourmalines show a cat’s eye effect called chatoyancy. This term derived from the French word chatoyer (‘to iridesce, like a cat's eye’). ‘Cat’s Eye’ tourmalines are usually green, blue or pink, and demonstrate an eye-like slit effect caused by numerous thin, tube-like inclusions that form naturally during the gem’s growth.
Scientifically, tourmalines are not a single mineral but make up a group of closely related mineral species that share the same crystal structure but have different chemical and physical properties. They share silicon, aluminium and boron, but contain a complex mixture of other elements such as sodium, lithium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, chromium, vanadium, fluorine and sometimes copper. It’s this chemical composition that directly influences the colour of a tourmaline gem.
Tourmaline becomes electrically charged when heated or squeezed, making it both pyroelectric and piezoelectric. This rare and special ability to generate an electric charge and emit negative ions and Far Infrared Rays mean that tourmaline is widely recognised as a healer, able to boost the immune system and promote detoxification. The resonance created in the body by tourmaline’s Far Infrared Rays when in close proximity (for example, when worn as a pendant) is the same as that normally found in water. This form of resonance helps to relieve stress, increase alertness and stimulate circulation.
Though not a traditional option for an engagement ring, like a diamond or a ruby, tourmaline’s wild range of colour possibilities have driven its rise in popularity over recent years, opening up opportunities to self-express and diverge from the crowd. With any shade of the rainbow to choose from, our bespoke engagement ring service could be your answer to crafting a unique token of appreciation that reallyreflects your beloved’s personality.
If you’re not looking to pop the question but do know somebody who’s a green-lover or October baby, then we also have some green tourmaline baguettes dying to be nestled down amongst some other beautiful ethical materials in a bespoke commission piece. Why not drop us a line today?