Myths and legends

What does natural tourmaline stone look like?

Most cut quality tourmalines are elbaite in composition.

In the color classification, the following names of mineral varieties have been established: rubellite – pink to red, verdelite – green, indigolite – blue, achroite – colorless. Specimens of intense green color, colored with chromium, can be called chrome tourmalines. Paraiba, first found in the 1980s. in Brazil, in the state of Paraiba, it is considered the most expensive variety of the mineral. This stone, painted with copper, has its own unique bright “neon” blue, green and blue-violet colors. In terms of its composition, it is considered elbaite. Go to the encyclopedia of Paraiba tourmaline
Often, when describing varieties of a mineral, they are limited to only indicating their color, without using any other names, for example, pink, green tourmaline, etc.

In addition to the single-colored specimens mentioned above, there are polychrome tourmalines, i.e. multi-colored. It is characteristic of this species that two, three or even more colors can be observed in the same crystal with the naked eye. For example, color zones can be located across the main axis of the crystal, or form concentric layers in transverse sections of the crystal. If the central zone in the cross section of a tourmaline crystal is pink or red, and the outer rim is green, then it will be called “watermelon”.

Neon blue Paraiba, pink-red rubellites and blue indigolites are the most valuable varieties of tourmaline.

Keeping tourmaline jewelry in proper condition is not difficult. For home care you will need clean water, soap and a soft sponge. Do not use steam, heat or abrasives for cleaning. The mineral should not be brushed or subjected to ultrasonic cleaning. The gem does not react well to temperature changes and exposure to household chemicals, so jewelry is removed during household chores. Minerals of blue, pink, red and green colors should not be exposed to open sun – prolonged exposure to sunlight leads to their discoloration.

Proper storage of tourmaline crystals involves the use of soft cloth in which the jewelry is wrapped – this prevents damage to other, softer stones.

How to distinguish from fakes

The following features of the stone allow you to recognize a fake tourmaline:

  • A natural mineral has a non-uniform color, a fake will look perfect. To make the imitation, glass painted in the desired color is used, as well as plastic.
  • Natural gem has high hardness, which is much higher than similar parameters of glass.
  • Tourmaline crystals have piezoelectric properties – the ability to attract hairs and small pieces of paper when heated.
  • Large tourmaline gems of natural origin are extremely rare, so jewelry with large stones will be an imitation.
  • Artificial stones are completely free of any defects.

Place of Birth

The main share of tourmalines of various colors of jewelry quality is supplied to the world market from Brazil. More than half of all tourmalines are mined there. In this country, most of the deposits are located in the state of Minas Gerais. African countries that mine the mineral include Mozambique, Nigeria and Madagascar. The most richly colored polychrome liddicoatites are mined at the Anjanabonoina deposit in Madagascar. Expensive copper-bearing Paraiba is now mined mainly in Mozambique. The Brazilian deposits of this gem in the states of Paraiba and Rio Grande do Norte are practically exhausted. A small amount of Paraiba crystals used to come from Nigeria. Tourmaline mining is also carried out in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan. Manifestations of the mineral have also been recorded in Europe, where it is mined in Italy on the island of Elba. There are also deposits in the USA, the collection specimens of rubellite from California are especially famous. In Russia, tourmaline is mined mainly at the Malkhan deposit in Transbaikalia. The first finds in the Urals in Russia were made at the end of the 18th century. But now, due to their rarity, Ural crystals are more likely to be of collector’s interest only.

CHARACTERISTICS

Many tourmalines are characterized by a pronounced optical property – dichroism. If you look at the stone from two mutually perpendicular sides, you can see a change in color hue and saturation. This property is taken into account when cutting. Samples containing parallel channels may exhibit a cat’s eye effect.

Mineral Type: Tourmaline

Chemical formula: XY 3 Al 6 (OHF) 4 [BO 3 ​​] 3 [Si 6 O 18 ], where X = Na, Ca, Li, and Y = Fe 2 +, Mg, Mn, Al, G, V

Optical character: anisotropic

Density: 3,06 (+0,20, -0,06) g/cm 3

Refractive index: 1,624-1,644

INTERESTING FACTS

  • In cross sections of Madagascar liddicoatite crystals, more than five different colors can be observed simultaneously.
  • Light pink tourmalines in Russia are called rubellites, but abroad they are “pink”, and only specimens of a rich pink-red or red color are called rubellites.
  • Tourmalines have an interesting property: they become electrified under the influence of heating and cooling, when stretched and compressed, and also under the influence of friction.
  • The best among tourmalines is the stone called the “Jolly Green Giant”. The gem is of impressive size and is located in the Museum of Natural History in New York.
  • Minerals were brought to Europe by sailors from Ceylon. The aborigines called the stone “turmali,” which meant “attracting ash.” The name of the crystal was associated with its ability to become electrified when heated.
  • Large gem crystals are used in the manufacture of radio engineering devices.

History

The first tourmalines were brought to Europe by Dutch sailors from the island. Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1703. Sailors used tourmaline crystals to clear ash from their smoking pipes. This was facilitated by amazing properties: tourmalines become electrified when heated and can attract ash. Due to the variety of colors, they were often mistaken for other colored stones. For example, it turned out that the crown of the Czech kings contains not a ruby, but a red rubellite. The crown of the Russian Empress Anna Ioanovna was also decorated with a pink tourmaline stone, and not spinel, as previously thought. The Diamond Fund of Russia contains the “Big Ruby”, presented to Empress Catherine II by the Swedish King Gustav III in 1777; it is also a tourmaline. Rubellites became very popular in Europe and Russia from the mid-18th century. The growth in popularity was also facilitated by the jeweler Carl Faberge, who actively used them in his jewelry and decorative items. The large flow of gems into the world market was also associated with the discovery of large deposits in Brazil. In 1989, at an exhibition in Tucson (USA), a sensation occurred: a never-before-seen gemstone was presented to the public – the neon blue appearance of Paraiba. The color variety of tourmalines has been appreciated by many famous jewelry companies, and the cost of these stones is growing very quickly.

Ennobling

To improve their external properties, stones can sometimes be subjected to various methods of refining. Heat treatment can be used to lighten too dark green and blue-green tourmalines. Pink-red samples can become completely discolored when heated, so only very dark samples are subjected to short-term low-temperature heat treatment to lighten them. Heat also removes unwanted pink-violet tones in copper-containing Paraiba tourmalines, revealing their blue and greenish-blue coloring. Irradiation can also be used to improve the color saturation of pink samples. Colorless stones after irradiation may acquire a pink color, and light yellow ones may become brighter or also turn pink. To visually improve the purity of the tourmaline mineral, cracks can be filled with various polymers. For example, heat-treated Paraiba, which is characterized by many cracks, can be subjected to such filling. To discolor the channels in tourmalines, etching with various acids is occasionally used. Diagnosis of ennoblement is important primarily for the expensive Paraiba variety, because The price of the stone can greatly depend on the presence of heat treatment and filling facts.

The healing properties of the stone

In the east, tourmaline is endowed with enormous healing power and is considered a cleanser of the body. The stone contains a large set of microelements, due to which it balances biocurrents and emits negative ions.

Jewelry with tourmaline, thanks to the heat of our body, is able to form a low-frequency magnetic field that emits anions. Lithotherapists directly associate such properties with healing effects on the body. The mineral is capable of:

  • Reduce muscle pain.
  • Get rid of rheumatic diseases.
  • Calm the nervous system.
  • Normalize the functioning of the body’s endocrine and hormonal systems, and establish lymph flow.
  • Strengthen immunity, eliminate headaches.
  • Improve blood circulation, normalize blood pressure.
  • Bring metabolic processes back to normal, enhance cellular metabolism.
  • Provide protection from stress and negative influences.
  • Improve complexion and skin condition.

PHOTO tourmaline

Cross section of a crystal of the watermelon variety from Nigeria

Tourmaline is one of the most beautiful minerals used in jewelry. There are more than ten types of this stone in all colors of the rainbow. The most famous types are rubellite, paraiba, schorl, and verdelite.

This mineral arrived in Europe from Sri Lanka (Ceylon) in the 18th century. These were purple stones brought by the Dutch. From the inhabitants of Ceylon, the Sinhalese, travelers heard the word “tourmaline” – in their language it meant “colored stones”.

However, Europeans had encountered tourmalines before. They were often mistaken for other stones, such as topazes, emeralds or rubies. The famous piece of jewelry called the Caesar’s Ruby perfectly illustrates this similarity.



According to legend, the pendant in the shape of a bunch of grapes was given to Emperor Caesar by his beloved Cleopatra. Later, the jewelry was in the possession of many rulers, but today it is kept in the Diamond Fund of Russia. It was our scientists who subsequently established that the “Caesar’s Ruby” was not a ruby ​​at all, but a red tourmaline originating in Burma. The weight of this masterpiece of jewelry is over 255 carats.

The chemical basis of tourmalines is aluminum silicate and boron. However, admixtures of other substances (iron, sodium, magnesium, etc.) create the unique color nuances of these stones. In total, tourmaline can contain over 25 elements of the periodic table.

For example, the presence of copper and manganese characterizes Paraiba tourmaline, a mineral of extraordinary beauty with a bright “neon” blue and green-blue color. Paraiba is one of the most unusual and expensive stones in the world, which was discovered quite recently.

Tourmaline Paraiba

Тhardness on the Mohs scale: 7 – 7,5

Density: 3,06 (+0,20, -0.06) g/cm3

Shine: glass

Refractive index: 1,624 – 1,644

Birefringence: 0,018 – 0,040

Dispersion: 0,017

Color: light blue, greenish blue, blue, violet blue

Syngonia: trigonal

Optical character: anisotropic

Cleavage: no

One of the most beautiful stones on the planet, Paraiba tourmaline was first mined in Brazil in 1987, near the village of São José de Batalha. An unprecedented gem shocked the global jewelry community.

The Brazilian prospector Heitor Dimas Barbos was the first to begin excavations in the Paraiba hills. He was convinced that these places concealed treasures unknown to mankind, and he was right. Five years later, his team discovered sky-blue tourmalines with incredible glassy luster and an internal glow. Unfortunately, Heitor Dimas himself did not see the dizzying success of the found stones – by the time they were discovered, he was mortally ill and soon died. However, he will always have the championship in the discovery of some of the most beautiful gems on Earth.

Paraiba was first presented at the Tucson Fall Gem Shows in the USA. Jewelry houses were so amazed by the beauty of the stone that they immediately began ordering its supply. Very soon the mineral began to cost fabulous money.

The supply of Brazilian tourmalines quickly depleted: the only known deposit – a hill 65 meters high – was quickly razed to the ground. Fortunately, in 2001, Paraiba was found in Nigeria, and 3 years later – in Mozambique. So the history of mining this incredible stone was able to continue.

The scattering of deposits of this type of minerals is associated with long-term geological changes. Once upon a time, these stones were formed at the same time and under the same conditions, next door, on the ancient continent of Pangea, which 150 million years ago split into the continents we know today. So some of the deposits remained in South America, and some ended up overseas – along with Africa and Madagascar.

Each deposit has its own characteristics:

  • Brazilian stones are valued for the most saturated color;
  • Paraiba from Nigeria is famous for its very large size, but has a rather pale color;
  • Minerals from Mozambique are of amazing quality and color; today they are valued as much, if not more, than anyone else.

The US Gemological Association designates high-quality stones from Mozambique as Paraiba – type, which indicates the high similarity of these minerals to Brazilian ones. These are the best Paraiba tourmalines today, since Brazilian deposits have been depleted.


One of the interesting features of tourmalines is the polarization of light. This is the refraction of a light ray by a stone, as a result of which the glow intensifies several times. In the case of Paraiba tourmaline, this effect causes its internal neon glow, from which it is impossible to look away.

The unusual shade of Paraiba is obtained due to the content of copper and manganese in it, while other types of tourmalines acquire characteristic colors due to iron, vanadium, chromium and other substances. Knowledge about the content of many chemical elements in tourmaline allowed jewelers to improve its beauty. So, in order to make the color of Paraiba even more saturated and pure, it is heated, thereby removing excess impurities in the stone. As a result, we can observe products of extraordinary beauty.

Paraiba Tourmaline Cost

Only a few can possess Paraiba Tourmaline. Today this stone is one of the most valuable on the planet, so it is in demand not only as a bearer of special and unique aesthetic properties, but also as an object of profitable investment.

The very first Paraiba stones were sold for $250 per carat; after just a week of sales starting, the price rose to $2500 per carat; after another 20 years, the price was $18000 per carat.

At Christie’s auction in May 2018, Paraiba tourmalines were sold for $180000 per carat. Today, the cost of these minerals is growing every day.

Healing and protective properties of tourmaline

The appearance of precious stones captivates and captivates the imagination. Therefore, since ancient times, people have attributed magical and healing qualities to them. However, the unusual properties of tourmalines have been proven by official science.

In the 19th century, famous physicists Pierre and Marie Curie first noticed that when exposed to even a little heat, tourmalines generate electricity. The voltage these stones create is 0,06 mA, the same amount of electrical current produced by the human body.

According to alternative medicine, negatively charged tourmaline ions, when in contact with the skin, increase a person’s vital energy, help improve immunity, and strengthen the circulatory and nervous systems.

At the same time, esotericists believe in the protective properties of tourmalines, which, in their opinion, harmonize a person’s inner world and cleanse the aura. According to popular belief, black tourmaline schorl is able to protect against negative magical influences.

As for Paraiba tourmaline, it brings peace to the soul, relieves stress and helps strengthen the love relationship in a couple. This stone is especially useful for Cancers and Aquarius.

And, of course, this type of stone brings peace to true connoisseurs of beauty and aesthetes. The mesmerizing radiance, depth and inner fire of tourmalines inspires, ennobles thoughts and spirit. Paraiba tourmalines are a true natural phenomenon. You can purchase exclusive premium jewelry with the rarest examples of this stone at the Maxim Demidov Jewelry House, where we create unique masterpieces especially for you.

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