Tourmaline is one of the two gemstones associated with the month of October.
Being one of the two accepted birthstones for the month of October, Tourmaline is one of the zodiac gemstones for Libra and Scorpio.
The general symbol for Tourmaline is (Na, Ca)(Li, Mg, Al)(Al, Fe, Mn)6(BO3)3(Si6O18)(OH)4
Tourmaline is made up of the complex Aluminium Borosilicate element, and depending upon the color of the gemstone, one or more of a number of metal ions, usually Iron, Magnesium and Lithium. Paraiba owes its spectacular color to Copper and is the only Tourmaline variety that contains this variety. It occasionally will contain traces of Manganese and recent studies directed by the German Foundation for Gemstone Research has discovered that Paraiba also contains a high Gold content, 8.6 parts per million.
History & Lore:
The name Tourmaline is widely accepted as being derived from the Singhalese expression tura mali, which when translated means “stone of many or mixed colors”.
Tourmaline is often referred to as the rainbow gemstone, due to the huge amount of colors that it is available in. This was certainly believed by the ancient Egyptians who believed that when Tourmaline traveled from its home in the earth's core to the surface, it did so along a rainbow, which subsequently gifted the gemstone with all of the colors of the rainbow.
Tourmalines exhibit piezoelectricity and when these stones become warm they become electrically charged – positively at one end and negatively at the other, acting like a magnet and strong enough to attract small particles of dust or ash. It is for this reason that the Dutch of old used Tourmalines to clean their pipes!
As with most gemstones, ancient civilizations credited Tourmaline gems with magical and mystical powers, including having the power to guard against danger and misfortune. Tourmalines are said to have an especially strong influence over friendship and love, lending permanence and stability to both. Tourmaline gems help to amplify psychic ability / energy and are an excellent aid to increasing self-confidence and understanding. Tourmaline is believed to help assist with tranquil sleep, calm nerves, improve concentration and creative processes and to be an aid to curing cancer.
The discovery of Paraiba begins with a simple Brazilian man named Heitor Dimas Barbosa, a man who dreamed of finding something completely different. Heitor was convinced that something lay hidden deep in the Paraiba hill near his Brazilian home and in 1981 he began his hunt by excavating in the old mines in the area. It took five and a half years of hard work in the labyrinths of passages in shafts that lay beneath the Paraiba hill before Tourmaline deposits were found. The digging continued and finally in the Autumn of 1989 a new Tourmaline treasure had been discovered, a brilliant neon blue and green Tourmaline more vivid than ever seen before. Unfortunately Heitor was recovering from an illness at the time and the stones were sold before he could even set eyes on them. Soon after the amazing discovery mining operations skyrocketed and after five and a half years of endless digging the Paraiba hill had almost been left bare. The deposits now have been exhausted.
In 2001 similar turquoise colored Tourmalines were discovered in Nigeria. Though the Nigeria stones tend to be slightly lighter then the Paraiba stones, it is hardly noticeable. Studies conducted by scientists also have confirmed that their color is also due to traces of Copper and Manganese. This find has created many discussions regarding continental drift as the coastline of South America and Africa fit much like a jigsaw puzzle, with Nigeria and north-east Brazil directly linked.
The popularity of this rare and unique gemstone has sky-rocketed over the past decade, with prices following. Paraiba gemstones are some of the most coveted and expensive stones in the world, with retail prices over $40,000 per carat for top quality specimens.
The legendary Paraiba deposits were found near the village of Sao Jose de Batalha in the state of Paraiba, Brazil. Recent deposits have been found in Nigeria though some gem collectors and traders are uncertain of labeling them true Paraiba gemstones.
Tourmaline (regardless of variety) is rated at 7 – 7.5 on the Moh's Scale of Hardness and as such is suitable for all jewelry uses and is considered durable enough to be worn everyday.
Found in an amazing variety, the sheer number of available Tourmaline colors is second to none and unmatched by any other gemstone. Tourmalines can be found in shades of blue, black, brown, colorless, green, orange, pink, red, yellow and other colors in varying shades and hues, varying from completely transparent to opaque. In addition to this there are also known occurrences of bi-color, tri-color, multi-color and “Cat's Eye” Tourmalines, ensuring that the Tourmaline truly is a gemstone that is available in a color to suit all styles and tastes.
A Tourmaline gemstone viewed from different angles will result in differing color intensities being visible. The only one thing that you can be sure of is that the deepest coloration will always be shown along the stone's main axis. When selecting a Tourmaline, go with the color that you like but generally try to steer clear of any stone that is cut too dark.
When viewing a Paraiba, it is easy to understand the immense popularity that this gemstone has received. Nature created a gemstone thats color, brilliance and luminosity goes unrivaled. The combination of Copper and Manganese found within Paraiba creates a vast array of remarkable colors including neon greens, turquoises, electric blues, deep Sapphire blues, purple-blues, and reddish-purples. The Manganese causes the reds and purple shades found in Paraiba whereas a higher concentration of Copper causes the more sought after brilliant blues, greens, and turquoises. Fortunately modern heat-treatments and experienced cutters can eliminate the undesired red-purple traces.
The color of Paraiba has often been referred to as electric or neon due to the unique brilliance and fire that is exhibited by these stones, causing them to brightly shine even without a light source. This factor along with its vivid colors, popularity, scarceness and legendary discovery makes it one of the most treasured gemstones of all time.
Paraiba gemstones are most commonly and almost exclusively faceted as this will best display their unique fire and brilliance.
Paraibas are often heat-treated in order to lighten colors and to remove “silk” (a form of natural imperfection / inclusion).
Care & Cleaning:
Use warm, soapy water and a soft brush to clean Tourmaline. Ultrasonic cleaners are generally safe. Never use chemicals such as hydrofluoric acid or ammonium fluoride to clean Tourmaline because it can erode the stone. Much like many gemstones, Tourmaline should be kept away from prolonged exposure to extremes of heat and light as this can cause permanent color change. Always keep your Paraiba Tourmaline jewelry in a fabric-lined box, away from other jewelry, in order to avoid damage / scratching.