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 have 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 were rich and famous. Traveling around in that big world the Dutch West India Company discovered tourmaline. And since 1703 they brought the beautiful gemstones back to Western Europe. That’s how we got 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 got its colors. Tourmaline made a long trip from the heart of the earth to the sun and the tourmaline 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 was a lot of confusion about the stone’s identity. The bright colors of the tourmaline trick many gem lovers, since they think it was emeralds, rubies or sapphires. Even the name confuses many.
The Dutch merchants who found the tourmaline 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 was 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 changed in 1875 when a 20-year-old lad, named George Kunz, walked into the office of Tiffany’s in New York with green tourmaline, that he had found in the Mine Mt Mica in Maine. Tiffany’s was well known in the world of precious stones and was the largest company in that field in the world. But they were only interested in precious stones. Kunz persuaded Charles Tiffany to buy that fine green tourmaline and that was the start of the world leaders in colored gemstones of Tiffany’s.
The biggest fan was a Chinese empress
Although tourmaline is found in many places in the world, it is one of the few gemstones the USA is famous for. Not only that… but tourmaline 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 tourmaline in California.
The greatest admirer of tourmaline 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 tourmaline. Her tourmaline 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 tourmaline and they all have different names. Anchroite 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. Indigolite 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, is mixed with the tourmaline.
Besides the unicolored tourmaline, there are bi-colored and multicolored tourmalines. There are tourmalines that 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 of tourmaline is the fact that 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 tourmaline 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 tourmaline more often than other precious stones. The atonomy of tourmaline 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 tourmaline we cannot but admit that the October birthstone is an intriguing gemstone that can be compared with the precious stones, like ruby and emerald. And I will bet that the October women are just as intriguing as their birthstone.
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