Mineral Guide > Precious Stones > Tourmaline gem stone

Tourmaline gem stone

Tourmaline gem stoneEarly in the eighteenth century some children of Holland, playing, on a warm summer's day, in a courtyard with a few bright-colored stones, noticed that these possessed a strange power when warmed by the heat of the sun. They attracted and held (just as a magnet attracts iron) ashes, straws, and bits of paper. On reporting this strange discovery to their parents, the latter, it is said, could give no explanation of the curious property, but a relic of their knowledge of it is left in the name of "aschentreckers," or "ash-drawers," which they gave the stones and by which they were known for a long time.

Such was the method of introduction to the civilized world of the mineral now known as Tourmaline, a mineral which in variety of color, composition, and properties is one of the most interesting in nature.

The lapidaries who had given the Dutch children the stones for playthings did not recognize them as different from the other gems in which they were accustomed to deal. So to the present day, although tourmaline is considerably used in jewelry, it is rarely ever called by that name. The green varieties are often known as Brazilian emerald, chrysolite, or peridot, some varieties of blue as Brazilian sapphire, others as indicolite, the colorless as achroite, and the red as rubellite, siberite, and even as ruby.

It is only somewhat recently that these different stones have been recognized as being varieties of a single mineral species which is known by the name tourmaline. This name comes from a Cingalese word (Turamali) which was applied to the first tourmaline gems sent from Ceylon to Holland.

In its opaque form, colored either black or brown, tourmaline is a comparatively common mineral. It accompanies many so-called metamorphic rocks, i. e., rocks which have been changed by heat and pressure from their original condition, and is also common in granite and other eruptive rocks.

Black Tourmaline picture
Brown Tourmaline picture
Green Tourmaline picture
Red Tourmaline picture