FlorenceJewelshop is based in the Netherlands. That’s that tiny country in Western Europe. Just next to Germany, on the coast of the North Sea. We made our country ourselves by ‘stealing’ it from the sea, but it stays small.
So in trying to become more important we trade in the whole world. And in the 17th century, we are rich and famous. Traveling around in that big world the Dutch West India Company discovers tourmaline. And since 1703 they bring the beautiful gemstones back to Western Europe. That’s how we get to appreciate tourmaline, the birthstone of October. And because this special gemstone occurs in all the colors of the rainbow.
Tourmaline and all the colors of the rainbow
Tourmaline has all the colors of the rainbow (and even more). In an Egyptian legend, there is an explanation of how this gemstone gets its colors. This colorful gemstone made a long trip from the heart of the earth to the sun. And there it collects all the colors of the rainbow on the way! What can a gemstone want more than having such a lot of colors to please the people who wear this gemstone?
Tourmaline has an intriguing passport
There is a lot of confusion about the stone’s identity. The bright colors of this gem trick many gem lovers since they think it was emeralds, rubies, or sapphires. Even the name confuses many.
The Dutch merchants who find this gemstone in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) named the gemstone ‘toramalli’, which means ‘mixed gem’ in Singalese, the language of Sri Lanka. The gem knowledge in the old days is not so advanced as today. And they just did not know that tourmaline was a different type of gemstone than the precious stones emerald, ruby, or sapphire.
Tourmaline and Tiffany’s
That changes in 1875 when a 20-year-old lad, named George Kunz, walks into the office of Tiffany’s in New York with green variety. He has found it in the Mine Mt Mica in Maine. Tiffany is well known in the world of precious stones and is the largest company in that field in the world. But they are only interested in precious stones. Kunz persuades Charles Tiffany to buy that fine green tourmaline and that is the start of the world leaders in colored gemstones of Tiffany’s.
The biggest fan was a Chinese empress
Although this beautiful gemstone is found in many places in the world, it is one of the few gemstones the USA is famous for. Not only that… but it was the first gemstone that was mined in the USA by miners other than native Americans or prehistoric men. In 1822 the miners started to excavate tourmaline from the mine Mount Mika in Maine and a few years later they found this gemstone in California.
The greatest admirer was the Dowager Empress Ci Xi. She bought enormous quantities of USA tourmaline, which she used in jewelry, headdresses, in buttons, but also for perfume and snuff bottles. The Dowager Empress lies in her grave on a pillow made of this stone. Her gemstone import was so important, that when the Chinese Empire collapsed in 1912, and the import stopped, the tourmaline economy in the USA nearly stopped too.
There are many colors in a rainbow
There are many colors of tourmaline and they all have different names. Anchorite has no color and is very rare and expensive. Rubelite is pink to red and sometimes a bit purple, but the most precious is the ruby color. Dravite is yellow-brown to dark brown and Verdelite has every shade of green. Indicolite has every shade of blue in the gemstone and Schorl is black. But all those colors are tourmaline; the difference occurs when different minerals, like iron or copper, are mixed with this gem.
Besides the unicolored tourmaline, there are bi-colored and multicolored varieties. Some are pink at one end and green at the other end or green on the outside and pink on the inside (watermelon tourmaline). Some types of tourmaline change color when you look at them at different angles.
Another feature is the fact that the tourmaline is electric. That means that when you heat or rub the gemstone, one side will get negatively charged and the other side positively charged. It can attract little pieces of paper or ashes. That is why it is sometimes called the ‘Ceylonese magnet’ or ‘electric stone’. The Dutch called tourmaline ‘asshentrekkers’ or ash drawers in the 18th century.
Due to the electric power and the attraction of dust you have to clean this gemstone more often than other precious stones. The atonomy of the gem is so complex that a Dutch scientist sighed that this atonomy was more complex than the handwriting of a doctor.
Well reading the story about the gemstone we cannot but admit that the October birthstone is an intriguing gemstone that can be compared with precious stones, like ruby and emerald. And I will bet that the October women are just as intriguing as their birthstone.
Do you want to know more about the tourmaline or the other birthstones? Ask for this free e-book, where you can find all the information you need and want to know. Just let me know where to send it to!
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