Tourmaline is a wonderfully varied gemstone which is available in just about every colour of the spectrum. A birthstone for October alongside opal, tourmaline is said to be the stone of reconciliation, representing healing, friendship, and sympathy for others. It is traditionally given as a gift for eighth wedding anniversaries.

As it comes in a vast variety of colours, the name tourmaline was originally adapted by Dutch merchants from the Sinhalese (Sri Lankan) word “tormalli” meaning “mixed gem.” Like spinel, tourmalines have historically been mistaken for other gemstones, such as rubies or emeralds. Until the eighteenth century, gemstones were often identified using colour, instead of crystal structure and mineral composition as we use today, and this caused some confusion when it came to the versatile tourmaline.

Most of the colours of tourmaline are known by their own unique names. Tourmaline that is red or pink is often called rubellite tourmaline, due to its resemblance to ruby. Tourmaline that has a mixture of red and green is known as watermelon tourmaline. Paraiba tourmaline is named after the region in Brazil where it was first found and is very bright blue in colour. Chrome tourmaline, which was often mistaken for emerald in the past, is a vibrant green colour.


The world’s most famous tourmaline is a rubellite tourmaline known as Caesar’s Ruby, which has featured in the collections of many prevalent figures, including that of Charles IX of France, Gustav III of Sweden, and Catherine the Great of Russia.

Tourmaline has a hardness of 7-7.5 on the Mohs scale, which is much softer than sapphires and diamonds. This means that extra care must be taken when wearing a tourmaline in jewellery so that it is not damaged. While a ring might not be the best option for this stone, they are a beautiful and vibrant choice for earrings and pendants.


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