THE AMERICAN GEMSTONE
As October’s birthstone, tourmaline comes in a wide range of colors and sizes, at virtually every price level. Tourmaline is said to bring high energy, good luck, creativity and romance, depending on its color.
For centuries, Tourmaline has been confused with almost every other gem due to similarities in color. It wasn’t until the 1700s that the tourmaline was first scientifically identified. The name comes form Sinhalese toramalli, which traditionally referred to mixed gems of various types. (Sinhalese is the official language of Sri Lanka.) However, the tourmaline became widely regarded as an American gemstone around 1900, when a respected gem specialist found large tourmaline deposits in California and Maine. California tourmalines were a favorite of the last empress of China. In fact she was laid to rest on a pillow carved from it.
Though tourmaline has the widest range of color of any gemstone, it occurs most plentifully in shades of green and pink. Today deep red tourmalines have commanded the highest value.
Green is typically the most inclusion-free. Most other colors are often lightly included. Different types of tourmalines are often classified by color though some are recognized by variety or trade name.
- Parabaiba stones are vivid blue tourmalines found on a specific site in Brazil.
- Rubellites are red to deep pink and can be confused with rubies.
- Watermelon tourmaline typically has a pink center surrounded by green in one crystal.