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 a 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.
Let us be somewhat more accurate…
In the 16th century when the Spanish conquistadores roamed the South American continent, more specifically traveling in Brazil, he found accidentally a green crystal. When he cleaned it a bit he thought he had found an emerald, which it wasn’t. Only in the 1800s did gemologists discover that this particular gem was a tourmaline.
It is a very confusing stone. Even the name is confusing. The stone is called ‘toramalli’, which means ‘mixed gems’, the name that the Dutch merchants used for the multi-colored pebbles that were found in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in their mines. Those pebbles had all the colors of the rainbow, from pinks to reds, from green to blue, and even black.
Although this gem was recognized as a separate gemstone in the late 1800s, this gemstone may be known already for centuries. People only did not recognize it as tourmaline and thought they owned rubies, emeralds, or sapphires.
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?
This gemstone 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.
One of the most remarkable features of this beauty is its clarity. Clarity makes a gemstone extraordinary, especially with a colored gemstone it is stunning to see how the light comes through. And this gemstone is as clear as a diamond, without inclusions. And there are not many gems who can say that.
Another strong feature of the tourmaline is that it boosts creativity, and makes the body and spirit stronger. Great to know if you are in ‘writers’ block’ or if your creative mind seems to be busy with other things.
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 of Mount Mika in Maine and a few years later they found this gemstone in California.
The greatest admirer of this gemstone 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.
The mining of the tourmaline did not stop altogether, but the amount dropped dramatically. In the 20th century, miners in Brazil found large deposits of this gemstone and the supply for the market raise again. From the 1950s on the popularity and the supply of tourmaline started to come up seriously, also with the discovery of other deposits in the world. Like in Madagaskar and Afghanistan where they found mostly red tourmaline.
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 Schörl 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 variety, there are bi-colored and multicolored varieties. Some are pink at one end green at the other end green on the outside and pink on the inside (watermelon tourmaline). Some types of tourmaline change color when you look at them from different angles.
The Paraiba Tourmaline
One of the most beautiful types of this gemstone is the Paraiba Tourmaline. It is originally found in the state of Paraiba in Brazil, but later on, miners found them in Nigeria and Mozambique too. And of course, this causes some problems with using the name. Some jewelers solve that controversy by selling them as ‘Paraiba-like’ or Cuprian Tourmaline.
The gemologists don’t go along with that discussion, since they say that the Paraiba tourmaline does not have that name because of the location it is found first in 1989, but of the amount of copper, it contains, which is higher than in the other tourmalines.
You may regard this type of tourmaline as one of the most expensive gemstones in the world. If you have the right quality gems, they can cost between $2000 to $50.000 per carat. The price is high because they are rare and they are popular due to their intense blue color. And in the mines, the miners dig up quite a few small pieces, but hardly any weighing a carat or more.
Another feature is the fact that this gemstone 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 this gem ‘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 autonomy of the gem is so complex that a Dutch scientist sighed that this autonomy 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 this precious gem or the other birthstones? Or are you looking for a personal and very special gift and you don’t know what to give exactly. Ask for this free e-book. You can find all the information you need and want to know. Like your birthstone or the birthstone of a friend, you want to give that personal gift, like a piece of jewelry with her birthstone. You can add this free PDF to the gift to make it more special. Just let me know where to send it to!
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