Tourmaline's name comes from the Sinhalese word "turmali," which means "mixed." Bright rainbow collections of gemstone varieties were called "turmali" parcels. Tourmaline, occurring in more colours and combinations of colours than any other gemstone variety, lives up to its name. Looking at tourmalines is like looking at a sweety jar!
There is a tourmaline that looks like almost any other gemstone. Many stones in the Russian Crown jewels from the 17th Century once thought to be rubies are actually tourmalines.
Tourmaline occurs in every colour of the rainbow and combinations of two or three colours. Banded bicolour and tricolour tourmalines are very popular. Sometimes the colours are at different ends of the crystal and sometimes there is one colour in the heart of the crystal and another around the outside. One colour combination, pink centre with a green rind, is called "watermelon tourmaline". Sometimes designers set slices of the crystal instead of faceted stones to show off this phenomenon.
The coloured varieties, when transparent and free from flaws, are cut as gems. Transparent crystals of tourmaline are dichroic - the depth of colour varies as the crystal is turned in the light.
Tourmalines are most often cut in long rectangular shapes because of their long and narrow crystal shape. Tourmaline crystals are beautiful - pencil thin and ridged - and these are sometimes set in jewellery. Some designers also set rainbows of tourmaline in each colour of the spectrum. Tourmaline is strongly pleochroic an impressive word that means the darkest colour is always seen looking down the axis of the crystal.
Tourmaline is the birthstone for October.
Tourmaline is the gemstone for the eighth wedding anniversary.
See our gorgeously colourful tourmaline jewellery. Our tourmaline bracelets and tourmaline pendants show the variety of pinks and greens available in this sought after gemstone.