Tourmalines are gems that come in an incomparable variety of colours. According to Egyptian legend, tourmalines, on their long journey up from the centre of the Earth, passed over a rainbow, absorbing all of its colours – hence it still being referred to as the 'gemstone of the rainbow' today.
Take a look at some of our tourmaline collection here.
Picture: Paraiba tourmaline Forget-me-not ring; range of tourmaline varieties; Pink tourmaline Foxy lady pendant
The name itself emanates from a Singhalese word that means 'stone with mixed colours'. There are even tourmalines which change their colour with the light.
The individual colour variants have their own names. For example, a tourmaline of an intense red is known as a 'rubellite'; blue tourmalines are known as 'indigolites'; one particularly popular variety is the green tourmaline, known as a 'verdelite'.
A relatively recent discovery are the canary tourmalines – found in Malawi and unsurprisingly yellow in colour – adding a previously less common colour to the seemingly endless spectrum of hues in which this stone can be found.
The Star of the Show - Paraiba
The absolute highlight among the tourmalines is the 'Paraiba tourmaline', a gemstone of an intense blue to blue-green which was not discovered until 1987 in a mine in the Brazilian state of Paraiba. In good qualities, these gemstones are much sought after treasures today.
The world has one man and his unshakable belief to thank for the discovery of this unique gemstone - Heitor Dimas Barbosa. Tirelessly, he and his assistants spent years digging in the pegmatite galleries of some modest hills in the Federal Brazilian State of Paraiba.
Heitor was absolutely convinced that somewhere beneath the 'Paraiba hill' - famous today - he was going to find something 'completely different'. And he was proved right. In 1981 he began with the first preparations for excavations at an old, dilapidated opencast mine. He had one deep hole after another drilled in the hard ground - without success. But finally his tenacity paid off and, five and a half years after the cut of the first spade, the first signs of a tourmaline find manifested themselves. In the autumn of 1989, a handful of the finest tourmaline crystals were brought up into the daylight from one of the many galleries. Unfortunately at this point Heitor was taken ill and the raw crystals were sold without his having seen them! There is now hardly any expectation that further finds will be made – hence the rarity of these splendid gems.
Where in the world they are found?
Tourmalines are found almost all over the world. There are major deposits in Brazil, Sri Lanka and South and south-west Africa. Other finds have been made in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Tourmalines are also found in the USA, mainly in California and Maine. Although there are plenty of gemstone deposits which contain tourmalines, good qualities and fine colours are not often discovered among them.
Research sources: gemstone.org