Tourmaline Gemstone

History, Origin & Significance | Value | Magical Properties

The Tourmaline probably one of most interesting of all the gemstones, due to its multiplicity of colors and tints and unique physical features.

History, Origin and Significance of Tourmaline

The Tourmaline was known even to the ancients, whereof testify the Medieval sources described the supplies of these gemstones from Scythia to Rome. After the victory of Pompey over Mithridates, the Romans discovered the full diversity of oriental precious stones. The Tourmaline has been found, perhaps, among these gems and pearls supplied from India and Ceylon.

Tourmaline Gemstone

The first specimens of the Tourmaline were found at the Mediterranean markets, whither these gems were brought by the Arabs. We can find the first mentions about the Tourmaline studying the treatises of Theophrastus, who wrote that the first Tourmalines were found in the vicinities of Cyprus. This stone, according to his words was of emerald-green color on one end while at the other end it represents of jasper-red tint.

Another famous Medieval writer Pliny the Elder described similar crystals, discovered on another island in the Mediterranean Sea, which was found in the iron mines of Elba. He was also the first, who described the unique physical properties of Tourmaline, able to attract small subjects (such as ash and dust), due to its magnetic features, appearing when heating the crystal on the sun, which later were accidentally confirmed by Dutch children, played with the Tourmaline crystals.

Only these hazy mentions describe the Tourmaline of the ancient times. After, this distinguished gemstone was completely forgotten.

Next time, the Tourmaline has been appeared only in the middle of the XVII century on the European market under the name “Brazilian Emerald.” But the term “Brazilian Emerald” was incorrectly introduced by the Medieval author De Laet, who also mistakenly thought that the gemstone, described by him is harder than the true Emerald obtained from Peru.

Later, following the story about two Duth children, played with the tourmaline crystals during the sunny day who occasionally discovered the magnetic properties of unknown gemstone, supplied to Holland for cutting. This incident, subsequently stumped the scientific community of Holland. But, however, these scientists entitled the Tourmaline by another name “ash-drawers” due to its particular feature to attract ash, being warmed in the sun.

Shortly afterwards, french scientist M. Lemery exhibited this curious stone to the French Academy of Sciences in 1727. Later, German physician AEpinus, interested in this curious of enigmatic gemstone purchased two specimens of Tourmaline from Mr. Lechman, made the series of experiments and published the results of its investigations at Berlin in 1756.

After the series of experiments were interpreted all around the Europe and especially in England by Dr. Heberden. All of these experiments arouse interest of fashionable and philosophy societies, shortly afterwards the Tourmaline came in vogue. But in these times, the Tourmaline was known upon different names.

The Dutch scientist Linnreus was the first who associated the crystals of unknown gemstone, delivered from Ceylon, within the crystals of black tourmaline, known in Europe 2 centuries before.

Much time has passed over and a lot of discussions were established before the Tourmaline acquired its modern name derived from the ancient Cingalese word “tourmali.”

Subsequently, extensive supply of Tourmaline from Burma (modern Myanmar) and Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka) to Europe were established.

The Value of the Tourmaline

The most valuable Tourmalines represented on the market are of red color, due to its rarity. Especially valuable the varieties of red tourmaline resemble the Ruby in their color, however, the rose specimens are much common.

The green varieties are usually dark green color, but never resemble the Emerald.

The interesting properties of Tourmaline are: resistance to acid and infusible of transparent specimens.

Black Tourmaline, called “Schorl” is most common variety of this gemstone, therefore this variety is not expensive.

Actually, the Tourmaline is classified as semi precious stone, due to its prevalence in nature. Tourmaline is mined all around the world, including US, Russia (Siberia, Ural mountains), Africa, Brazil, Oriental countries and even Afghanistan. However, the most valuable specimens of this gemstone obtained in their “historical homeland” in Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

Also well known the tourmalines, obtained from the Mount Mica near Paris, Maine, where they were discovered by two young students-mineralogists in 1820, but much of these tourmalines were sold out and to this day stored inside the best treasures of the world. It is known facts, that the tourmalines, obtained from the Mount Mica were exhibited many times and were purchased by the Russian and Austrian crowns.

Mystical, magical and other significances attributed to Tourmaline

Hitherto not known any reliable source, described the magical or healing properties of this distinguished gemstone, however, we can find one author, who could point us towards the right way in our investigation.

George F. Kunz done an excellent research concerning the history, mythology and local customs with regard to gemstones. According to his book, the Tourmaline symbolized faith & charity. This gemstone also is a symbol of Brazil. Tourmaline is the October Birthstone, being a gem of Autumn; it is also appropriate to the name Theodore.

June 23, 2018

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