Tourmaline – Mineral and Healing Properties
Tourmaline is a crystal boron silicate mineral compounded with elements such as aluminum, iron, magnesium, sodium, lithium, or potassium. Tourmaline is classified as a semi-precious stone and the gem comes in a wide variety of colors.
Most people consider tourmaline to be a single mineral. But in fact it is a group named for several different, but closely related minerals. Members of the Tourmaline Group are favorites among mineral collectors. Their rich and varied colors can captivate the eye. Even the black opaque tourmaline’s can shine nicely and produce sharp crystal forms. Tourmaline’s are cut as precious gems, carved into figurines, cut as cabochons, sliced into cross-sections and natural specimens are enthusiastically added to many a rock hound’s collection.
There are many unique properties of tourmaline’s. First, they are piezoelectric which means that when a crystal is heated or compressed (or vibrated) a different electrical charge will form at opposite ends of the crystal (an electrical potential). Conversely if an electrical potential is applied to the crystal, it will vibrate. Secondly they are pleochroic which means that the crystal will look darker in color when viewed down the long axis of the crystal than when viewed from the side. This property goes beyond the idea that the crystal is just thicker in that direction. Even equally dimensioned crystals will demonstrate this trait. This property can be used as an advantage by gem cutters who may wish to enhance a crystal’s pale color or weaken a strongly colored crystal.
The four most common and well known tourmaline’s are distinguished by their color and transparencies. Elbaite is the gemstone tourmaline and comes in many varied and beautiful colors. It is transparent to translucent and is highly prized as minerals specimens and as gemstones. Elbaite is easily the most colorful of all the gemstones.
The iron rich schorl is the most abundant tourmaline and is black and opaque. Schorl is the most common mineral in the Tourmaline Group. Some other members of the Tourmaline Group are elbaite, uvite, buergerite and dravite. All tourmaline’s form similar crystals because they are isostructural, meaning that they share the same internal crystalline structure.
Schorl can form some very nice classic tourmaline crystals. Tourmaline crystals are interesting because they are hemimorphic, having a different shaped top from the bottom of the crystal. Some crystals of Schorl can reach a rather large size and can display a great variety of crystal faces.
Schorl can be a major component of igneous and metamorphic rocks. Although it is not the only black mineral common to such rocks, it is the only one that will form crystals with a clear triangular cross-section.
Long thin crystals of schorl are common as inclusions in quartz, forming the ornamental stone called “Tourmalinated Quartz”. This stone is unique with its long needle to straw sized, arrow straight, prismatic crystals of pitch black Schorl criss-crossing the clear colorless quartz. This attractive stone is used in semi-precious jewelry, carved figurines, obelisks, crystal balls, eggs and as a popular tumbled stone.
Origin Of The Name
The name Tourmaline comes from the Singhalese word touramalli which means “mixed colored stones” because tourmaline is found in so many different colors they were often confused with other types of gems.
Tourmaline’s are piezoelectric which means that when a crystal is heated or compressed (or vibrated) a different electrical charge will form at opposite ends of the crystal (an electrical potential).
Black tourmaline gemstone jewelry was very popular during the Victorian era in mourning.
The pink color of tourmaline’s from many fields is the result of a continued natural irradiation.
The Empress Dowager Tz’u Hsi of China loved pink tourmaline and bought large quantities for gemstones and carvings from the then new Himalaya Mine, located in San Diego County, California.
Native Americans have used pink and green tourmaline as funeral gifts for centuries.
Brightly colored Sri Lankan gem tourmaline’s were brought to Europe in great quantities by the Dutch East India Company to satisfy a demand for curiosities and gems. At the time it was not realized that schorl and tourmaline were the same mineral.
Where Is It Found
Tourmaline is found in two main geological occurrences. Igneous rocks, in particular granite and granite pegmatite and in metamorphic rocks such as schist and marble. Schorl and lithium-rich tourmaline’s are usually found in granite and granite pegmatite. Magnesium-rich tourmaline’s, dravites, are generally restricted to schists and marble. Tourmaline is a durable mineral and can be found in minor amounts as grains in sandstone and conglomerate, and is part of the ZTR index for highly-weathered sediments.
California became a large producer of tourmaline in the early 1900s. Almost every color of tourmaline can be found in Brazil, especially in the Brazilian states of Minas Gerais and Bahia. In the late 1990s, copper-containing tourmaline was found in Nigeria. Another highly valuable variety is chrome tourmaline, a rare type of dravite tourmaline from Tanzania. Extra fine indicolite (blue tourmaline) and verderite (green tourmaline) are found in the Nuristan region (Ghazi Abad district) and Pech Valley (Pech and Chapa Dara districts) of Kunar province.
What Do We Do With It
Stones can be used in Color Therapy, Crystal Grids, Crystal healing like Reiki, Crystal Magic, Meditation, Psychic & Intuitive work and Jewelry. Stones are also used for decoration around the home.
Black Tourmaline is a powerful stone, with a long history among many cultures of providing protection during ritual work. It can be used for scrying, and was traditionally used to point out a cause of trouble or an offender, and to indicate a good direction in which to move. This article explores not only Black Tourmaline and it’s use as a psychic shield, an electric stone, a luck talisman and more; but the second half of the article explores how it works in combination with quartz.
Black Tourmaline is best known as a grounding and protection stone.
It has the following associations: Element: Earth, Chakra: Root, Deity: Manat, the Arabian Goddess of Waning Moon, Time, Destiny and Death. Astrological: Capricorn and Libra Today Black Tourmaline is still revered as a premier talisman of protection. Think of it as a psychic shield deflecting and dispelling negative energies, entities, or destructive forces. Or you might think of it as a lightening rod, taking any negative energy and grounding it into Mama earth where she can transform it back into pure potential. It promotes a sense of power and self-confidence, allowing for a clearer, more objective view of the world. Black tourmaline is empowering to those who must live or work in challenging environments or when facing difficult circumstances.
Mystical Tradition says to rub black tourmaline for luck and happiness. This reputation as a powerful stone and a very lucky stone, might come from the piezoelectric qualities. When the tourmaline is rubbed it becomes charged with magnetic electricity and the luck intensifies.
Color: Black, green, blue, watermelon, red among others.
Luster: Vitreous to sub metallic.
Transparency: Crystals are opaque.
Crystal System: Trigonal; 3 m.
Crystal Habit: Typically elongated three sided prisms. The terminations can be either a simple to complex trigonal pyramid or flat basal face. The prism faces are usually striated lengthwise. In cross section, all tourmaline’s will appear predominantly triangular in shape. Doubly terminated crystals are hemimorphic meaning that the two ends of the crystal are not exactly alike. Massive forms can also be found.
Cleavage: Absent although there is basal parting.
Fracture: Uneven to conchoidal.
Hardness: 7 – 7.5
Specific Gravity: 3.2+ (slightly heavier than average)
Other Characteristics: Piezoelectric
Associated Minerals: Those minerals associated with granitic pegmatites and metamorphic rocks such as micas, feldspars and quartz.
Best Field Indicators: Crystal habit, overall triangular cross-section, striations, color and hardness.