Tourmaline is not a one type of mineral, but rather a group of minerals with different complex chemical composition, but essentially the same or very similar crystal structure. It often contains traces of aluminium, magnesium and iron. It is relatively a hard stone ranking as 7 or even 7.5 on Mohs scale that shows its relative superior hardness.
Tourmaline is believed to be firstly discovered in 1500s, however during that time the distinct mineral composition of the stone was not defined and species of tourmaline were confused with some other known during that time stones. Only in 1875, green tourmaline was introduced and presented as different kind of minerals. In fact, tourmaline was and still is a national gemstone of the United States. This country was the primary source of tourmaline for long years up until 1900s. Nowadays tourmaline is still produced in the United States, but the main manufacturer is Brazil.
The stone can be found in almost all colors of the spectrum and often viewed as a very versatile gemstone. It even exists in colorless form which is the rarest, however also the least valuable form. Black is the most common type of tourmaline and is largely available worldwide. The most valuable and rare is neon green-blue paraiba tourmaline. Most other tourmalines display two or even more colors in a single stone, they are often shades of one color. Bicolor tourmaline can be one color at one end and of a different color at the other one.
Interestingly, even the name of the stone is associated with color variations and is translated from Sinhalese as a “stone of mixed colors”.
It also should be noted that tourmaline exhibits a strong level of pleochroism. It is an optical phenomenon where the color of the stone appears to be different depending on the angle from which the stone is viewed.
The stone is typically transparent to transculent, however Schorl and Cat’s eye tourmaline are opaque. The level of inclusion often depends on the color of the stone. Green Tourmaline is often eye clean, whereas some other colors like red, pink and blue almost always have a significant amount of inclusions. When the stone is well polished, it often has somewhat resinous luster. The vast majority of tourmaline is untreated, however some are treated with a purpose of clarity and color improvement.
Tourmaline is the official gemstone of October, the stone for the Leo sign zodiac and often viewed as a traditional gem for the 8th wedding anniversary. According to Hindu belief systems, it balances energy levels of the body. It is able to strengthen the body and spirit, inspires creativity and used by many of us as a talisman for luck.