Tourmaline occurs in many colours and also in combinations of two or three different colours. The colours can be at different ends of the gemstone or together in the heart of it. Tourmaline with a pink centre and green border is known as Watermelon Tourmaline.
An electrical charge can be induced in some Tourmaline crystals and this effect has found many uses in pressure measuring equipment and other scientific applications. It was subsequently used in the production of pressure sensitive gauges for submarine instrumentation and other war-time equipment. The pressure gauges that measured the power of the first atomic bomb blasts were made with slices of Tourmaline.
Tourmaline is easily confused with other similar coloured gemstones hence in the past it has caused much confusion. Many of the gemstones in the Russian Crown Jewels from the 17th Century originally thought to be Rubies turned out to be Tourmaline.
In South America, the green variety is still referred to as the 'Brazilian Emerald' and the exact quantity of green gemstones which were mined in the early days of the Portuguese colonization and sent to Portugal as Emeralds will probably never really be known
Highly prized throughout history, the Dowager Empress of China, the last Empress of China, loved it so much that she bought enormous quantities when a new mine opened in California. It was used for carving and for making toggles or buttons on the jackets worn by the royal court and by other wealthy individuals.
Crystal healers use Tourmaline to enhance understanding, increase self-confidence, amplify psychic energies as well as to aid concentration and communication. It is also believed to neutralize negative energies, dispel fear and grief and aid relaxation of both mind and body. On a medicinal level Tourmaline can help with the treatment of many different conditions and diseases including anxiety, blood poisoning, arthritis and heart disease.
Found in Africa, the Ural Mountains of Russia and other European locations, some of the most exciting finds have been in North and South America. Some of the most beautiful specimens were discovered early in the 19th century in the United States and in 1972 a mine in Maine established itself as one of the largest ever found. For a brief period it became a world source for superior quality red and green coloured Tourmaline. The first Pink stone was found in the 1860's in San Diego. Today the largest mines are in the Minas Gerais state of Brazil but it can also be found in Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Mozambique, Myanmar, Russia, Namibia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Along with Opal, Tourmaline is the birthstone for October and the anniversary gemstone for the 8th year of marriage. It is graded 7 to 7.5 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness making it an ideal choice for use in jewellery.
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