Tourmaline, is often referred to as the Rainbow Gemstone, and according to an old Egyptian legend, ’tourmaline on its long journey up from the centre of the Earth, passed over a rainbow’.
The reality is that tourmalines are made of mixed crystals of aluminium boron silicate. They have a complex and changing composition and because the mineral group is so complex, minor or very slight changes in the composition cause completely different colours. Therefore, crystals of only a single colour are rare.
The name tourmaline comes from the Singhalese words 'tura mali', meaning 'stone with mixed colours'. Dutch traders first introduced tourmaline from Sri Lanka to the Europeans in the late 17th century. Tourmaline's almost limitless colours can resemble nearly any other gemstone. Although red, green, and multi-coloured are its most famous colours, it can be found in many more. The colour spectrum of this gemstone is much greater than other precious stones. Many stones in the Russian Crown jewels from the 17th Century once thought to be rubies are actually tourmalines.
Tourmaline has many interesting optical properties. There are tourmalines which change their colour when the light changes from daylight to artificial light, some that by looking at them in different angles look deeper in colour, or even a different colour, and some show the light effect of a cat's eye. The colour of some Tourmaline can be enhanced through heat treatment, some greenish stones can be made deep green, some brownish-red stones can be made red, and some light pink stones can be made colourless through heating. They often have two or more colours. No two tourmalines are exactly alike. This gemstone has an endless number of faces, and for that reason it suits all moods.
Therefore, it is not a surprise that these qualities have led to the belief that magical powers have been attributed to it since ancient times. In particular, it is the gemstone of love and of friendship, and is said to make them firm and long- lasting.
The Empress Dowager Tz'u Hsi, the last Empress of China, loved pink tourmaline. She bought almost a ton of it from the Himalaya Mine in California. This mine was located a long way from the Mother Country. The Himalaya Mine is still producing tourmaline today but the Dowager went to rest eternally on a carved tourmaline pillow.
Tourmaline is also of interest to scientists because it changes its electrical charge when heated. It becomes a polarized crystalline magnet and can attract light objects. This property was noticed long ago before science could explain it, as many years ago in the Netherlands. Tourmalines were called 'aschentrekkers' because they attracted ashes and could be used to clean pipes!
Tourmaline is a beautiful gemstone that is growing in popularity; we have designed a number of tourmaline engagement rings see what we have designed already.