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Tourmaline as a Jewelry Gemstone

Sparkling colors combined with a diamond-like brilliance makes tourmaline a very popular gemstone. They can be cut in a variety of facets and shapes and look truly unique. Green stones called elbaites, are considered by many to be the most popular and green stones are often cut to rectangular shapes that can closely resemble fine quality emeralds. Indicolites are considered equally as popular and are known by their beautiful blue, sapphire-like appearance. Red stones are sometimes mistaken for rubies.

Overall, there are eleven recognized varieties of tourmaline differentiated by unique chemical structures. This is a relatively hard gemstone with several very interesting physical properties. Some stones, when heated, display a property called pyroelectricity with the stone developing opposite polarities with a negative charge one end and a positive charge on the other. Still another unusual occurrence called piezoelectricity develops much like the static electricity that is generated when two air-filled balloons are rubbed together or against ones hair.

History

These stones are found worldwide. For example indicolites are found in areas of North America, notably in Maine and California, the island nation of Sri Lanka and Brazil. Other varieties of tourmaline can be found in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, and across the Middle East. It is thought these stones were introduced to European traders after there discovery in what was once Ceylon, now referred to as Sri Lanka, though it has been recognized as a gemstone for well over two thousand years.

Birthstone Information

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