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Keep reading to discover more about tourmaline
- Mineralogy and geology*
- Metaphysical, Spiritual and Healing** Properties***
- Common Associations
Mineralogy and Geology*
Tourmaline is the name for a large group of borosilicate minerals that vary greatly in color, ranging from opaque, black schorl, to deep pink-red rubellite and translucent green to watermelon-colored elbaite.
Mineral formula: AD3G6 (T6O18)(BO3)3X3Z where
A = Ca, Na, K, Pb or is vacant;
D = Al, Fe2+, Fe3+, Li, Mg2+, Mn2+, Ti;
G = Al, Cr3+, Fe3+, V3+;
T = Si almost exclusively, although there can sometimes be minor Al and/or B3+ substitution. In adachiiteonly thus far, the T sites include one essential Al;
X = O and/or OH;
Z = F, O and/or OHSi can sometimes have minor Al and/or B3+ substitution.
Grouping: member of the Tourmaline Group
Crystal system: Trigonal
Crystal habit: prismatic to acicular, with striations parallel to the long axis of the crystal, and a triangular or 6-sided cross-section with rounded edges
Cleavage: poor to indistinct
Fracture: irregular / uneven, conchoidal
Color: highly variable – black, green, shades of pink to pink-red, yellowish, brownish, watermelon
Luster: vitreous to resinous
Diaphaneity: opaque to translucent
Moh’s scale hardness: 7 to 7 ½
Streak: greyish-white to bluish white (or none)
Specific gravity: 2.9 – 3.1
Named after: The name "tourmali" was a generic name used in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) for colored gems, mostly zircons. About 1703, Dutch lapidaries discovered that some of the "zircons" arriving in the Netherlands were actually a previously undescribed mineral. Tourmalin, as a more or less specific mineral name, was used by Rinmann in 1766. Hill called it Tourmaline Garnet in 1771 and Richard Kirwan shortened the name to "Tourmaline" in 1794. Varieties of tourmaline have their own names and etymologies.
Type locality: Elbaite (including watermelon tourmaline) from Elba, Italy.
Geological occurrence: Granites, granite pegmatites, metamorphic rocks and high temperature hydrothermal veins.
Tourmaline is a “kitchen sink” mineral – the composition can vary greatly due to the vast combinations of elements that can occupy positions in the crystal lattice. Thirty-three "pure" combinations have been identified and given specific names as varieties of the Tourmaline group by the International Mineralogical Association; trade names can differ from the mineralogical names.
The varieties of tourmaline are named by color; here are a few:
Schorl - black; sodium/Iron rich; most common species of tourmaline, 95% or more of all tourmaline in nature
Elbaite - often pink center with blue, green or yellow zones; sodium/lithium rich; includes watermelon tourmaline.
Rubellite - red or pinkish red
Indicolite - light to dark blue to bluish green
Verdelite - green
Dravite - brown
Geology, Occurrence and Uses of Tourmaline
Tourmaline is a common constituent of granite and granite pegmatites, and can be found in hydrothermal veins and in metamorphic rocks. Schorl and lithium-rich tourmalines are usually found in granite and granite pegmatite. Magnesium-rich tourmalines are generally restricted to schists and marble. Due to its hardness and relative resistance to chemical weathering, tourmaline can be transported by water long distances from their source area as alluvial deposits.
The primary use of tourmaline is as a semi-precious gemstone. Black tourmaline was used for blast gauges as the crystal transmits pressure quickly (before being destroyed by the blast). Tourmaline has minor uses as a chemical agent and for optical devices.
Tourmaline is mined chiefly in Brazil (the world's leading source of tourmaline for nearly 500 years) and Africa. Some placer material suitable for gem use comes from Sri Lanka. In addition to Brazil, tourmaline is mined in Tanzania, Nigeria, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Malawi.
In the United States, Maine and California (San Diego County) produce high quality specimens. The first discoveries in Maine were in 1822, with deposits of crystals in raspberry pink-red and minty greens. Pink tourmaline was discovered in 1890 in San Diego at what later became the Stewart Mine at the town of Pala in San Diego County. During the early 1900s Maine and California were the world’s largest producers of gem tourmalines; the Himalaya Mine in San Diego County supplied the Empress Dowager Tz'u Hsi of China with large quantities of pink tourmaline. For more information on the Pala area mine click HERE.
The San Diego county miners became so dependent on Chinese trade that when the Chinese government collapsed in 1912, the US tourmaline trade also collapsed. The Himalaya mine stopped producing large volumes of gemstones. Other mines in San Diego County, like the Stewart Lithia mine at Pala, still produce sporadic supplies of gem-quality tourmaline.
Spiritual, Metaphysical and Healing Properties
Tourmaline energy acts to clear, to maintain, and to stimulate each of the energy center of the body. It is thought to bring healing powers to the user and to provide protection for all dangers occurring in the physical plane. It provides balancing of all aspects of the being. The following colors of tourmaline have additional properties:
Black tourmaline (schorl) was the “protection” mineral of choice for many decades. It can both repel and protect against negativity, helping to deflect such energy by energizing the individual working with it. It also assists with grounding and “earthing” relating to the Earth Star and Base chakras. Place it in the four corners of a room to create a protective shield and dispel lower vibrations.
Blue tourmaline (indicolite) activates the third-eye and throat chakras, strengthening the skills related to communication and psychic awareness.
Brown tourmaline (dravite) helps to clear the aura and to promote alignment of energy (when used with other aligning minerals); it brings gentle protection.
Green tourmaline (verdelite) relates to the heart chakra, assisting with compassion. It also assists in connections with the plant kingdom.
Deep pink/red tourmaline (rubellite) relates to the heart chakra, strengthening the will to understand love, especially when linked with the base chakra. It provides vitality and physical energy.
Watermelon tourmaline (elbaite) is a “super-activator” of the heart chakra; it stimulates and energizes the heart chakra, linking it with the heart chakra of the higher self. It encourages a sense of humor about human experiences, as well as tact and cooperation.
- Chakra – depends on color and type
- Numerology - vibrates to the number 2 (generic)
- Black (schorl) – vibrates to the numbers 3, 4
- Blue (indicolite) – vibrates to the numbers 6, 55
- Brown (dravite) – vibrates to the numbers 2, 9
- Green – vibrates to the number 6
- Red-deep pink (rubellite) – vibrates to the numbers 1, 2, 4, 5
- Watermelon (elbaite) – vibrates to the number 2
- Planets – variable, depends on the type
- Zodiac – Libra (generic)
- Black (schorl) - Capricorn
- Blue (indicolite) – Libra, Taurus
- Brown (dravite) - Aries
- Green - Capricorn
- Red-deep pink (rubellite) – Sagittarius, Scorpio
- Watermelon (elbaite) – Virgo, Gemini
- Birthstone – October
- Wedding Anniversary – 8th
* Mineralogical information is from mindat.org
** Always consult with your medical professional for any physical or long-term healing issues.
*** Metaphysical properties come from:
Love Is in the Earth (1995) Melody, Earth-Love Publishing House, 726 pp.
The Crystal Bible, A Definitive Guide to Crystals (2003) Judy Hall, Walking Stick Press, 399 pp.
Crystal Muse (2017) Heather Askinosie and Timmi Jandro, Hay House, 285 pp.
Crystal Gridwork (2018) Kiera Fogg, Weiser Books, 128 pp.