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Tourmaline As A Jewelry Gemstone

Aug 18, 2007
Sparkling colors combined with a diamond-like brilliance makes tourmaline a very popular gemstone. They can be cut in a variety of facets and shapes and look truly unique. Green stones called elbaites, are considered by many to be the most popular and green stones are often cut to rectangular shapes that can closely resemble fine quality emeralds. Indicolites are considered equally as popular and are known by their beautiful blue, sapphire-like appearance. Red stones are sometimes mistaken for rubies.

Overall, there are eleven recognized varieties of tourmaline differentiated by unique chemical structures. This is a relatively hard gemstone with several very interesting physical properties. Some stones, when heated, display a property called pyroelectricity with the stone developing opposite polarities with a negative charge one end and a positive charge on the other. Still another unusual occurrence called piezoelectricity develops much like the static electricity that is generated when two air-filled balloons are rubbed together or against ones hair.

History

These stones are found worldwide. For example indicolites are found in areas of North America, notably in Maine and California, the island nation of Sri Lanka and Brazil. Other varieties of tourmaline can be found in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, and across the Middle East. It is thought these stones were introduced to European traders after there discovery in what was once Ceylon, now referred to as Sri Lanka, though it has been recognized as a gemstone for well over two thousand years.

Birthstone Information

Along with opals, this stone is recognized as the birthstone for the month of October and is associated with the astrological birth sign of Libra.

New Age Beliefs and Powers Through The Ages

Like many other varieties of crystal stone, tourmaline is believed to possess many different metaphysical qualities. Notable among the ancient myths is the belief that the stone could ward off depression and sadness and help the wearer overcome feelings of grief and loss. Because of the unique electrical properties of these stones, many in the New Age community believe that the wearer may experiences positive of negative changes in the bodies own electrical and magnetic fields. Tourmaline is also said to aid in the struggle against insomnia, and ward off or even cure a variety of physical ailments such as infections, arthritis, blood disorders and hormonal imbalances. Different color stones are said to possess powers unique to that color.

Artificial Forms of Enhancement

Heat treating is the most common method used to enhance the color of these stones and is used mostly on dark colored stones.

Color

Tourmaline can be seen in an incredibly wide range of colors, including some varieties that appear as bi-colored and even multi-colored. White or clear yellow, blue, red, pink, green and black are the most prevalent colors and the presence of certain contaminant minerals such as chromium and iron can influence the color.

General Scientific Information

The chemical name (Na, Ca)(Li, Mg, Al)(Al, Fe, Mn)6(BO3)3(Si6O18)(OH)4

Hardness measures 7.0 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale - the Mohs scale measures the hardness of metals, minerals, gemstones and crystals on a scale of 1 to 10. For example the hardness properties of most quartz crystals fall around 7 on the scale, as does steel and titanium. Diamond is the hardest known substance on the Mohs scale coming in at a hard 10. To most consumers hardness generally reflects the stones able to resist scratches and cracks.

The cleavage in tourmaline is poor.
The index of refraction ranges between 1.610 and1.735 and generally indicates the purity of the stone.
The specific gravity is ranges between 2.96 and 3.31.
The crystalline system is hexagonal rhombohedral.
About the Author
Mitch Endick is a short article writer for the popular jewelry site: JewelrySalesandService.com. Provides information on jewelry, rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces and watches. His website, www.JewelrySalesandService.com also has information on diamonds, birthstones, gemstones, pearls, gold, sterling silver, and platinum.
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