The Story of Tourmaline Gemstones


Consumer Information

What color is it?: Tourmalines come in all colors of the rainbow. No gem family is more diverse than tourmaline.

Pink tourmaline crystal and faceted stones

What is the story behind this gemstone?: Tourmalines have been used by royalty for years to show wealth. For many centuries fine quality green tourmalines were mistaken for exceptional emeralds. And no gemstone will offer as many vivid colors, and be as durable and long wearing as tourmaline.

Can I wear it everyday?: Absolutely. One of the best gemstones for everyday wear.

Is it expensive?: Tourmalines will run from very affordable to moderately expensive depending on the color and quality.

Is it a birthstone?: Not exactly. But if you do not like the birthstone you have, you can always find that same color somewhere in the tourmaline family.

What do I need to know before going shopping?: Be sure and shop with a qualified professional jeweler when shopping for tourmalines. Look for a store that carries a lot of colored gemstones, and a store who has a trained gemologist, to be sure that you are getting the quality and the stone you are paying for.

An unusual burnt orange color tourmaline set in a 4 prong pendant.

General Information

Tourmaline crystal in matrix shown above

Source: Brazil, United States (various locations)

Chemical: Varies with variety of stone

Formation: In pegmatite dikes.

Crystal System: Classic trigonal crystals. Note rounded triangular sides below. Prismatic crystals.

Unusual Properties: Bi-color (watermelon) tourmalines occur in a number of color combinations. Also cat’s eye or chatoyancy is also noted in tourmaline. Note: Care should be taken when cutting tourmaline as light passing down, or parallel to, the long “C” axis is poorly transmitted. This requires that tourmaline be cut with the table parallel to the “C” axis to obtain the best result for color. Otherwise the stone will be dark. This is why tourmaline is so often seen as long rectangular shapes when faceted. Please see the photo’s below for demonstration of light reaction to the different axis directions.

Bi-color tourmaline crystal and faceted stones

Light transmitted perpendicular to “c” axis..and parallel to “c” axis.

Faceted tourmaline showing color transmission when properly cut. 

All photos by Your Gemologist

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