The tourmaline is a large stone familly, whose name comes from a Singhalese word, « touramalli », meaning "mixed colored stones" and was originally applied to an assortment of colored stones.
Mineralogists gave tourmaline a variety of names, such as elbaite, tsilaisite, dravite, chromdravite, liddicoatite, uvite, schorl, achroite, buergerite, feruvite, foitite, povondraite and rubellite. Tourmaline occurs in every color of the rainbow and also in combinations of two or three colors. Sometimes the colors are at different ends of the crystal, while other times one color is in the heart of the crystal and another on the outside. When the later combination displays a pink center with a green rind it is called "watermelon tourmaline".
The most common used tourmalin in jewels are - rubellite - green tourmaline - dichroiques and trichroiques tourmaline - Paraiba tourmaline
Tourmaline are mainly mined in Brazil. In 1989, Brazilian miners discovered tourmaline unlike any that had ever been seen before: This new type of tourmaline, which soon became known as Paraiba tourmaline, came in incredibly vivid blues and greens, due to copper sulfate added to a tiny amount of gold as coloring agent. This very rare stone demands extremely high prices on the market today.
Tourmaline has been found throughout history in Africa, the Ural Mountains and other European locations, but some of the most exciting finds have been established in North and South America. Gem quality stones were discovered early in the 19th century in the United States at Mount Mica near Paris, Maine.
After the Second World War, German immigration was strong in the Minas Gerais State of Brazil where the largest, gem-quality tourmaline mines have been discovered. These immigrants had close ties to Idar-Oberstein, a small German city that thus became the main cutting center for the output of the Cruzeiro, Golconda, Virgem da Lapa and Itatiaia (Jonas) mines.
Another notable find occured in the eighties, near the small village Sao Jose de Batalha in the state of Paraiba, Brazil, and yielded some new electric blue colors.
A rare type of tourmaline from Tanzania, called chrome tourmaline which occurs in a very rich green color caused by chromium, which is also the main coloring agent of emerald, is another particularly beautiful variety. Tourmaline is also mined in Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Mozambique, Myanmar, Russia, Namibia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Tourmaline crystals are most often cut in long rectangular shapes because of they come in long and narrow shapes. Tourmaline is strongly pleochroic: the darkest color is always seen when looking down the axis of the crystal, and the challenge for the gem cutter is to orient the stone in such a way as to get the best color possible while avoiding inclusions.
The Paraiba type, with its vivid blue colors, is the most expensive of the tourmaline family, followed by rubellite in red to pink shades. In fashion this moment is the «hot» pink color variety, found mainly in Afghanistan, Madagascar and in the new Nigerian minings.
Tourmaline is a durable gemstone which can withstand years of wear if thermal shocks are avoided.
And never forget, all stones are fragile! even the diamond ....