Tourmaline derives from the Singhalese term “turamali”, which translates as “stone of mixed colors.” The very name refers to the unique spectrum of colors displayed by this gemstone, which is second to none in the realm of precious stones. One of the most versatile of gemstones, tourmaline is available in every color, from colorless to black. It can show every tone from pastel to dark, and can appear in various colors in the same stone.
The many different colors of tourmaline mean that this stone can easily be mistaken for just about any other gemstone. Many stones in the Russian Crown Jewels from the 17th century once thought to be rubies are actually tourmalines. Another unique characteristic of tourmaline is that it can be electrically charged by heating and cooling, or applying pressure by rubbing the stone. The Dutch, who imported tourmaline in the early 17th century from Sri Lanka, discovered that specialty and used it to pull the ash out of their meerschaum tobacco pipes. They nicknamed tourmaline “aschentrekker” or ash puller.
Tourmaline is of high clarity, has very few inclusions and is quite durable (rating of 7-7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale), all of which make tourmaline a very attractive buy. Large sizes are affordable as well.
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