Tourmaline holds a special place in the hearts of jewelry designers and gemstone enthusiasts everywhere. So many beautiful colors are embodied in this gemstone. It is believed that tourmaline is found in all these variations because it traveled along a rainbow and shone in all the rainbow's colors.
Tourmaline was known for centuries by the name Schorl. This name was used prior to the year 1400 (AD) because a village known today as Zschorlau (in Saxony, Germany) was then named 'Schorl'' (or minor variants of this name) -- and nearby was a tin mine, where a lot of black tourmaline was also found.
The more modern name Tourmaline comes from the Sinhalese (Sri Lanka) words tura mali, meaning unknown gemstones of mixed colors. In the beginning of the 18th century, tourmaline crystals were grouped together in tura mali parcels in Sri Lanka and exported to Europe. It became popular worldwide, as it is a high quality gemstone that is affordable to use in jewelry designs.
Tourmaline is renowned as the gem of sensitive poets and creative artists. Shakespeare even had a small collection of tourmaline jewelry to help him overcome writer's block. Tourmaline is believed to inspire creativity and was used extensively as a talisman by artists and writers during the renaissance through the late 1800s. Perhaps this gemstone is believed to encourage artistic imagination because it has many faces and can express every mood though color.
The rarest member of the tourmaline family is pink tourmaline. In fact, it is even rarer that a ruby! The Empress Dowager Tz'u-hsi (tzoo-she), the last Empress of China, adored and avidly collected pink tourmaline. During her lifetime, she bought nearly a ton of it from the Himalaya Mine in California, USA. When she died, she was laid to rest among all her jewels, and her head was set upon a prized pillow of carved pink tourmaline.
The majority of fine-cut tourmaline is faceted. Colored tourmaline beads can be fashioned into bracelets, pendants, rings, earrings and other pieces of jewelry. Of the entire array of colors available, the green and pink watermelon variety has become the most popular.
For centuries, various cultures have had different beliefs about what benefits the tourmaline can bring to the wearer. In the 18th century, artists, authors, actors, and others in creative fields felt the stone to be helpful. In the same century, a Dutch scientist claimed that a tourmaline wrapped in silk and placed against the cheek of a feverish child would induce sleep. In Africa, tourmaline was once used as a stone to awaken one from "the dream of illusion." Ancient ceremonies in India included the use of the gem as a tool to bring insight and help in discovery of that which is good. It would also serve to make known who or what was the cause of troubles or evil deeds. The gem was also highly valued by alchemists who, perhaps because of its pyroelectric effect (the ability to generate a temporary voltage when heated or cooled), believed it to be related to the philosopher's stone. This was said to be the substance that would grant enlightenment, give power over spiritual affairs, reconcile opposites, and change base metals to gold. In modern times, the stone is used by tribes in Africa, Native Americans, and aboriginal groups in Australia as a talisman that protects against all dangers.
I especially love watermelon tourmaline -- imagine the things you could pair it with -- its shades of pink and green along with Swavoski crystals, peridot, black onyx, pearls, and golden beads. Watermelon tourmaline is said to be a stone of reconciliation, a stone that fosters compassion and cool headedness, radiates the energy that attracts money, healing and friendship, while stabilizing, grounding and reaffirming our connection to the earth.
The images above are from some of our favorite Etsy designers who work with Tourmaline -- from top to bottom are: 1) a gold and Watermelon Tourmaline necklace from LagunaGems; 2) Tourmaline hoop earrings from RobinWoodard; and 3) a Black Tourmaline pendant from NewEarthGiftAndBeads
One of our favorite sources for Tourmalines is Fire Mountain Gems, which carries a gazillion types, shapes and sizes of beautiful Tourmaline beads.
Until Next Time,