October Birthstone - Tourmaline

October’s alternative birthstone is the beautiful tourmaline. It is named for the Sinhalese (Sri Lanka) word “tura mali”, which translates to, “mixed gems”, and can come in almost every color or be multi-colored. Tourmaline is available in more color combinations than any other gemstone. The most expensive tourmalines are Blue Indicolite, Green Verdelite, Green-Blue Paraiba and Pink Rubellite.

Tourmaline rings.
Tourmaline rings.

Tourmaline can be found all across the world. Large deposits have been unearthed in Africa, Afghanistan, Australia, Brazil, Burma, Canada, Elba, Greenland, India, Italy, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Siberia, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, the United States and Zambia.

Early History of Tourmaline

A relatively new discovery, tourmaline was first unearthed by Dutch traders off the western coast of Italy in the late 1600’s or early 1700s’. Green tourmaline was actually discovered in Brazil in the 1500’s, but it was confused as emerald at the time. Americans owe the popularity of this stone to Tiffany’s renowned gemologist, George Kunz, who praised the stones which were being mined in Maine and California.

Art Deco pink tourmaline and sapphire ring.
Art Deco pink tourmaline and sapphire ring.

A Chinese Love for Tourmaline

Tzu His, the Dowager Empress of China who ruled from 1860 to 1908 was very fond of pink tourmaline, prompting a boom in popularity across China. She loved the stone so much, that upon her death in 1911, she was buried with her head at rest on a tourmaline pillow. These stones were worn as jewels and carved into functional designs like buttons for the royal family and snuff bottles.

Tourmaline- the “Electric Stone”

Due to its crystal structure, when a tourmaline is heated or rubbed, it acquires an electric charge that attracts small particles, such as dust. Due to this unusual stone property, it is used in electrical devices to produce pressure gauges. This property is referred to as “pyroelectric” and was first identified by Swedish botanist, Carl Von Linne, who referred to the gem as “the electric stone”. The stone has also been referred to as the “Ceylonese Magnet”.

Tourmaline’s Ability to Heal Your Skin

The pyroelectric qualities of tourmaline play a key role in healing and soothing the human body. The invisible waves of energy, referred to as Far Infrared Rays are capable of penetrating all layers of the physical body. These waves also expand the capillaries that carry blood, which in turn promotes oxygenation and regeneration of blood. These properties have led to tourmaline being used in a wide variety of health and beauty products across the world.

Mystical and Healing Properties of Tourmaline

Because tourmaline is a relatively recent discovery, it has limited traditional lore compared to gemstones like emerald, ruby and sapphire. The gemstone is commonly worn by writers and artists to spark creativity, and it was at one point believed that it would help make known the cause of evil deeds. Certain cultures have adopted it for its ability to strengthen the nervous system, blood and lymphs. It has also been said to reduce fever, heal the digestive system and strengthen teeth and bones.

Different Types of Tourmaline

  • Achroite– Colorless variety of tourmaline
  • Canary– Bright yellow form of tourmaline found in Malawi
  • Green tourmaline ring with halo and inclusions.
    Green tourmaline ring with halo and inclusions.
  • Chrome– Deep green tourmaline found in Brazil; the rich color is caused by chromium impurities
  • Dravite– Brown to yellow-brownform of tourmaline
  • Elbaite– Refers to most green and multi-color forms of tourmaline
  • Indicolite– Light to dark blue variety of tourmaline
  • Paraiba– Neon blue, light blue, blue-green, or green-copper tourmaline discovered in Paraiba, Brazil; the unique color is caused by inclusions of copper
  • Rubellite– Intensely colored pink, red or violet variety of tourmaline
  • Schorl– Black form of tourmaline; this is the most commonly found form of the gemstone
  • Siberite– Purple form of tourmaline
  • Verdelite– Occasionally used to describe green tourmaline
  • Watermelon– Multi-colored tourmaline with a red center and green outside (or vice-versa)

Fun Facts About Tourmaline

  • The Russian crown jewels, once believed to be rubies, are now thought to be tourmaline.
  • Pink and red tourmaline are more rare than rubies.
  • The pressure gauges used to measure the first atomic bomb blast were made using slices of tourmaline. It was also used as a pressure gauge for early submarines.
  • The largest cut Paraiba Tourmaline, named Ethereal Carolina Divine Paraiba, is owned by Billionaire Business Enterprises Inc. CEO, Vincent Boucher. The stone weighs of 191.87 carats.
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