Happy Tourmaline! It’s almost October and that means that aside from prepping for Halloween and National Frappé Day (yes, it’s a real thing!), October babies are getting ready to celebrate the momentous day of their birth. Some will be lucky enough to receive jewelry featuring this amazing gemstone but don't you worry – there's plenty of one-of-a-kind tourmaline jewelry to go around!
Today, I’m giving you a brief history of tourmaline, telling you where I first discovered it and showing you how the amazing variety of colors will keep you in style as well as channeling your mood. If you love tourmaline jewelry as much as I do, read on!
Tourmaline's Dazzling Array of Colors
Tourmaline, which is one of the two birthstones for October (the other being opal) is available in the widest range of color options for any gemstone, from watercolor pastels to incredibly vibrant colors.
Tourmaline comes from the Sinhalese word “Toramalli,” which means mixed gems and was applied to an unknown group of minerals miners found in Sri Lanka. Folklore says tourmaline received its many colors because of “its travels along rainbows where it captured the rainbows' many beautiful colors.”
The word on the street is that people who are born in October are bursting with charisma. How fitting that their birthstone is known for having the same characteristic. Tourmaline’s wheelhouse of color is spectacular.
Tourmaline is most commonly found in black but can also be found in brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, pink and all hues in between. It can be bi-colored, tri-colored and in dichroic form, can shift between two colors depending on the angle in which the gemstone is viewed.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) offers the below descriptions for specific types of tourmaline. Many varieties of tourmaline have their own trade names. Here are a few:
- Rubellite is the name for pink, red, purplish red, orangey red, or brownish red tourmaline.
- Indicolite is the name for dark violetish blue, blue, or greenish blue tourmaline.
- Paraíba tourmaline is a rare variety originally discovered in the state of Paraíba, Brazil and is known for its electric blue color.
- Chrome tourmaline is known for its stunning shade of green. It’s color comes from the same element found in many Brazilian and African emeralds.
- Parti-colored is named for tourmaline that displays more than one color such as pink and green but there are as many color combinations as you can possibly imagine.
- Watermelon tourmaline is often cut in slices to showcase its characteristic pink center with green rind around the outside.
- Schorl is primarily black but is also used to describe very dark tourmaline.
Where Does Tourmaline Come From?The American Gem Society gives us a pretty cool history of tourmaline:
- In the 1500s, a Spanish conquistador found green tourmaline in Brazil — which he mistook for emerald. His error held until the 1800s, when mineralogists finally identified tourmaline as its own mineral species.
- American tourmaline deposits caused the gem’s spike in popularity. In 1876, mineralogist George Kunz launched a craze when he sold green tourmaline from Maine to Tiffany & Co.
- In the early 1890s, tourmaline was reported in California—where Native Americans had, for centuries, given certain colors of the gem as funeral gifts.
- China once represented the biggest market for tourmaline. The Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi was particularly fond of pink tourmaline, and she purchased large quantities of it from deposits in San Diego County.
- The Chinese market was so critical to tourmaline, in fact, that when the Chinese government collapsed in 1912, it took the tourmaline trade down with it.
- Brazilian tourmaline discoveries in the 1980s and 90s reignited interest in this gem, because material mined in Paraíba displayed such striking neon greens, radiant blues and vivid violets. This region has produced the world’s finest, most valuable specimens of tourmaline—including the world’s largest, weighing 191.87 carats.
Other Uses of Tourmaline
Tourmaline is coveted by mineral collectors and jewelry lovers all over the world but did you know that it has other uses?
When heated, tourmaline is able to hold a positive charge at one end of the crystal and a negative charge on the other. Some historical resources report that Benjamin Franklin may have used tourmaline in some of his electrical experiments.
An electrical charge can also be created in some forms of tourmaline by just applying pressure to the crystal. Known as piezoelectricity, these charged pieces of tourmaline are sometimes used in scientific pressure measuring gauges.
And did you know that tourmaline is such a powerful mineral that it’s even touted as the best kind of blow dryer to have for your hair? Tourmaline blow dryers combine negative ions and infrared heat to seal the hair cuticle and lock in moisture for shinier results and reduced frizz.
Discovering Tourmaline for the First Time
I, for one, first fell in love with tourmaline upon discovering it at my local Gem, Mineral and Fossil Show. You see, back then I had just decided to feature gemstones in my handcrafted jewelry and I was researching which stones to work with.
The show I attend in Massachusetts brings together somewhere around 200 retail and wholesale vendors but there are many other shows held across the country. For example, the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show held every February draws tens of thousands of rockhounds, gem dealers, jewelry designers, collectors and geologists every year.
If you’ve ever been to a gem and mineral show, you know just how overwhelming it can be. Aisles and aisles of specimens as far as the eye can see! I still remember how with so many amazing gemstone samples on display, tourmaline was the stone that really caught my eye. I immediately fell in love with it and I use this semi-precious stone more than any other when designing and making my jewelry pieces.
As you can probably tell, I love to incorporate one of a kind gemstones into my jewelry so a gem show is a sort of playground for artisans like me who are looking for inspiration for that next great piece. Mineral collector Karen DeBruin of Wisconsin, mirrors my sentiments. This year she told Masslive, “When you go to a show and find something that you've never seen before, it just gets you so excited. You want to be the first in the door so you can find that special specimen before someone else does.”
In addition to the dazzling variety of colors, there is another reason I fell in love with this stone. Tourmaline is graded by its clarity and when it is judged “eye clean” it carries the highest monetary value. That's fine for some people but personally, I am drawn to the gemstones that contain inclusions – and this applies not only to tourmaline but other stones as well.
Inclusions can occur when another mineral, little bits of organic material, air and in some cases liquid is trapped inside the mineral as it is forming. Some people think of inclusions as “flaws” but I think they add interest and character to a gem and create a special unique quality to a piece of jewelry.
How Wearing Tourmaline Jewelry Can Influence Your Mood
If it still hasn’t sunk in yet, let me remind you one more time – tourmaline comes in a lot of shades. It’s range is so vast, you could literally wear a different piece of tourmaline jewelry for each of the 31 days in October and no one would be the wiser that you are wearing the same gem.
Dressing for your mood is not a far-fetched concept. More often than not, it is something many of us do unconsciously. What would you pull out of your closet if you wanted to primp for a romantic evening? What type of jewelry would you grab? There have been numerous studies on the psychological effects of color. I mean, there’s a reason companies invest millions of dollars into selecting the right brand and packaging colors.
How do we as humans respond to color? I went to do some digging into color psychology and whether or not our color preferences can reflect our personalities or influence our emotions.
What are some of the broader messages associated with color? And how can you dress for the day you want to have? Programmer and scientist Harshita Arora wrote about color theory earlier this year. She said certain colors or shades evoke different sentiments in people. “Different moods are attributed to different colors and you can use these different colors to achieve different ends...Blue — stability. Trust. Serenity. No surprise why both Facebook and Twitter are blue.”
I came across so much rich information in my search at verywellmind.com, you may want to check it out yourself. But until then, here’s some of the basics on how certain colors of tourmaline jewelry help to influence your mood:
Red is a warm color that evokes strong emotions. It is also associated with love, warmth and comfort. This Tourmaline Reef Ring that transitions from red to orangey-red is perfect for evoking bold emotion. The dramatic bi-color cabochon is wrapped in 18K gold and is perched atop a chunky hammer-textured reef band.
Pink is thought to have a calming effect. The color is also associated with kindness, nurturance, and compassion. Need a mellow day? This month slip on this Pink Tourmaline Taper Necklace. A darling pink rose cut tourmaline charm wrapped in a textured 18K gold bezel with two round gold beads, one square silver bead and two tapered silver dangles — one rough-textured, the other fused with gold dust. Patina with matte finish.
Orange calls to mind feelings of excitement, enthusiasm, and warmth. It is energetic. VeryWellMind notes that many sports teams use orange in their uniforms and mascots. To draw that same kind of excitement to you, you may want to try this Rustic Tourmaline ring. While the stone is primarily pink (see more on that color above), there is an amazing pop of tangerine that really adds pizazz to the piece and will put a spring in your step while wearing.
Green is known for relieving stress as well as symbolizing the natural world. A popular metaphysical stone, tourmaline jewelry has been acclaimed for its balancing, cleansing and purifying abilities. According to livestrong.com, “A green tourmaline worn on a pendant close to the heart,” like our Green Tourmaline Circle and Confetti Necklace, “will help heal the heart chakra.”
Blue brings about feelings of peacefulness and serenity so it’s no wonder that it is one of the most popular colors for painting a bedroom. But how do you bring that feeling with you as you navigate through your stressful day? Try this Aqua Tourmaline ring wrapped in 18K gold with a rustic, textured band.
You October babies are pretty lucky, but whether tourmaline is your birthstone or not, I hope this article has given you a little inspiration in seeking out one-of-a-kind piece tourmaline jewelry that speaks to you (or maybe to put on your wishlist!) Whether it’s for style or to enhance your mood, jewelry that features tourmaline is a fantastic accessory to add to your wardrobe. For a complete list of everything tourmaline in the shop, click here.
May it bring you as much joy as it does for me.
Thanks for reading,