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October Birth Stone Tourmaline (and Opal)


Tourmaline stands apart from other gemstones with its broad spectrum of colors in every shade of the rainbow. The stone was first discovered by Dutch traders off the West Coast of Italy sometime in the late 1600’s or early 1700’s. At the time, these green tourmalines were assumed to be emeralds. It wasn’t until the 1800s when scientists realized that these stones were their own species of mineral. The name "tourmaline" comes from the Sinhalese words tura mali, which mean "stone of mixed colors." As its name implies, tourmaline stands apart from other gemstones with its broad spectrum of colors in every shade of the rainbow.

Tourmaline is not one mineral, but a fairly complex group of minerals with different chemical compositions and physical properties. Certain trace elements produce distinct colors, and many resulting varieties have their own names. Many are not Gem quality but some are considered more rare and pricey. Parti-colored tourmaline displays more than one color, due to chemical fluctuations during crystallization. A common color combination is green and pink/red. These are often cut in slices to reveal a dark red center surrounded by a green rim, earning the name “watermelon tourmaline.”

Because of its colorful occurrences, tourmaline has been confused with other gemstones throughout history.

Tourmaline is mined in Brazil, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Mozambique, Madagascar, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the U.S. primarily Maine and California.

One of this gemstone’s most impressive traits is its ability to become electrically charged through heat and pressure. When charged, tourmaline can act as a magnet by oscillating, and by attracting or repelling particles of dust.

Ancient magicians used black tourmaline as a talisman to protect against negative energy and evil forces. Today, many still believe that it can shield against radiation, pollutants, toxins, an