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Tourmaline Stone Properties Facts and Photos

tourmaline crystal from Brazil in a museum display cabinet

Tourmaline Meaning and Properties

Tourmaline is not a single mineral but a large group of more than thirty different minerals.  They all share a common crystal structure and many physical properties but their chemical composition varies considerably.

Tourmaline is considered to be one of the most complicated groups of silicate minerals.

Vertical striations are a typical characteristic of tourmaline.  It's also common for crystals to have fractures and inclusions.  Striations are present on several minerals including pyrite, quartz and apophyllite. 

Striations are narrow grooves or ridges that appear as parallel lines.  On transparent crystals they can sometimes be mistaken for scratches.  Where present they often help with identification of certain minerals. 

The most common variety of tourmaline is schorl.  This mineral is black and always opaque.  Schorl crystals vary in size from very small to very large.

Quartz included with fine crystals of tourmaline is known as tourmalinated quartz.
black tourmaline variety schorl
Dravite is better known as brown tourmaline although exact shades of colour can vary.

Elbaite is another well known variety of tourmaline prized for the quality of its crystals.  The depth of colour and variety of colours in which they occur can be quite impressive.

Elbaite often exhibits pleochroism.  This optical phenomenon enables different colours to be seen depending on the angle from which the crystal is viewed.  Some varieties of tourmaline when polished as a cabochon can be chatoyant.

Despite the many colours in which tourmaline can be found, the colour of the stone's streak is always white.  

Rubellite is a gemmy variety of tourmaline that occurs in various shades of red.  The name originates from the Latin 'rubellus' meaning 'reddish'.  Both rubellite and watermelon tourmaline which exhibits a red centre and green periphery are varieties of elbaite.

tourmaline crystal with zones of colour

Both quartz and tourmaline are piezoelectric which means they produce an electrical charge when exposed to pressure.  Tourmaline is also pyroelectric meaning the charge can also be produced from heat.  For this reason tourmaline crystals are sought after for use in industry.  Their main use is in pressure measuring equipment and scientific applications.

Tourmaline was used in the production of pressure sensitive gauges in submarines and for other war-time equipment.  The pressure gauges used to measure the power of the first atomic bomb blasts were made with slices of tourmaline.

Flawless crystals are also used in certain electronics but finding a flawless tourmaline crystal is not easy.

Tourmaline can be found in many countries around the world.  Some of the finest crystals come from Africa, the Ural Mountains of Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and the USA.  The world's largest tourmaline mines are in the Minas Gerais state of Brazil.

Tourmaline grades 7 to 7.5 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness.  Although relatively hard it's also brittle so will break or fracture very easily.

According to the traditional birthstone chart tourmaline is the birthstone for October.  On the modern chart opal is October's birthstone but tourmaline may be used as an alternative.

Tourmaline Healing Properties

Tourmaline cleanses and purifies energy, grounds spiritual energy and clears and balances the chakras.  Due to its piezoelectric characteristic it stimulates the aura to capture positive energy.

Pink tourmaline is associated with the heart chakra.  It can be used to attract new love and to strengthen an existing relationship.  Black tourmaline is widely used for protection.      

Tourmaline brings deep mental understanding of ourselves and situations.  It can find solutions to complicated problems and is a powerful mental healer.  It can ease paranoia, ease irrational fears and strengthen self confidence.  A stone of compassion, it increases tolerance and is believed to bring good luck and prosperity.

For those who are creative tourmaline may be used for inspiration and to stimulate imagination.

Heat can cause the colour of tourmaline to fade so it should never be left out in the sun.  A sudden temperature change may also cause the crystal to crack.

Article Pictures

The first and third pictures in our article are elbaite from Brazil.  The second is the variety of tourmaline known as schorl.  All pictures are clickable and redirect to the original non-compressed photo.  Photos courtesy of Stan Celestian.  

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