Scientifically, Tourmaline is not a single mineral, but a complex silicate of boron and aluminium that contains varying amounts of iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium, sodium and potassium. It is a gemstone that is quite distinct from other gem species. According to Ruskin’s “Ethics of the Dust”, the chemistry of Tourmaline is “more like a medieval doctor’s prescription than the making of a respectable mineral”.
Regardless of this, Tourmaline is a beautiful gemstone. The most common color is dark green, but the gemstone can be found in a range of colors including yellow, blue, red, pink, violet, brown, black and occasionally white or colorless. The gemstone is notable for its ability to show several different colors arranged either in concentric bands around the centre of the crystal or as transverse layers along the length. Tourmalines have the quality of showing two different colors depending upon the angle from which it is viewed. Therefore it can look green in one part and red in another. The beauty and almost magical qualities of the Tourmaline is why it has become a very popular gem.
The skill in cutting a gem lies in the ability to show off its most beautiful colors. The most popular and sought after colors are ruby reds and dark greens shading into blues or yellows.
Tourmalines are found in Maine and California in the USA, Brazil, Siberia and Sri Lanka.
The name Tourmaline comes from the word Turmali – a name given to some of the first gemstones originating from Sri Lanka.
Some false names have sometimes been ascribed to Tourmalines in order to make them sound more exotic and expensive – so beware of any companies trying to sell you gemstones with the names: Brazilian Sapphire, Emeraldite or Siberian Ruby – or indeed any other name that cannot be verified with an accredited jeweler.