In the Mediterranean region, tourmaline gemstones were well known since prehistoric times. Because of its many colours, ancient Egyptians believed that tourmaline was a diamond that spent such a long time on its journey from the Earth's core that it took all of its colours. This is why it was considered as "The rainbow stone". In more recent history, the Dutch were known to have brought very beautiful specimens of tourmaline, from Ceylon, which became highly valued and used in lapidary production.
The Dutch also noticed another interesting feature of tourmaline and that is what is called piezoelectricity. That means that tourmaline creates small charges of electricity when warmed up or cooled down. Because of this, tourmaline attracts cigarette ash so it has been used to make very expensive and effective ashtrays. It is interesting and somewhat humorous that the Dutch called this stone aschentrekker, meaning ashtray, and this name is still used in northern Europe. On the right you can see a silver Pink coral, Pink Tourmaline (Rubelite), Ruby and Pink Opal ring called Ring of Awareness.
Tourmaline is known for the diversity of its colors. There are even some gemologists that counted over fifty beautiful and attractive colors and shades of tourmaline. Under different kinds of light, daylight or artificial light, tourmaline often changes colours. It is often multi-coloured. Some pieces even glow in the dark. It's name comes from Ceylon, probably brought by the Dutch with the stone itself, and originates from the word "tura mali" which means something like "a stone with mixed colours". This of course refers to a huge spectrum of colour. In that tourmaline outperforms all other precious stones.
To the left you can see a photo of a piece called Joy of Samsara, pendant made of chrome and Pink Tourmaline caught in quartz.
So varieties of this precious stone are sorted according to its colour:
Rubelite is a tourmaline of pink to red colour that sometimes has a purple tint. When it does, it is also called a "Siberian ruby".
Verdelite refers to the green tourmaline variant. Most valuable are specimens of dark-green colours then often known in the lapidary trade as "Brazilian emeralds".
Indigolite appears in all shades of blue, a stone of immense beauty, as well as the
Siberite coming from the Ural mountain range with colours coming iridescent from purple to indigo.
Dravit coloured maroon is known also as "Ceylon or Brazilian peridotite."
Elbeite comes from the island of Elbe and if it has its end black, it is called, somewhat politically incorrect nowadays, "Negro head", and if its ends are red, it is called "Turkish head".
Achroid is a very rare, colourless variety, and
Schorl a very unusual, velvety black variety of tourmaline, getting its black colour by the presence of iron.
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