Explore the Colorful Universe of Tourmaline Gemstones!
Imagine this: A Spanish conquistador in 1500s Brazil, astonished by the vivid green of a tourmaline crystal, mistook it for an emerald. This mix-up continued for centuries until the 1800s when scientists at last acknowledged tourmaline as a unique mineral species.
The very name of this captivating gemstone mirrors its identity puzzle. It originates from the Sinhalese word "toramalli," translating to "mixed gems." Dutch merchants assigned this name to the multicolored, water-worn pebbles they discovered in the gem gravels of Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka).
Tourmaline's wide variety of colors is the reason it's so often confused with other gemstones. From deep reds and soft pinks to lush greens, brilliant yellows, and intense blues, its unparalleled color spectrum has fascinated people for generations. The 1980s and 1990s brought Brazilian discoveries, adding even more striking shades to the world and enhancing the gem's appeal.
Though used as a gemstone for centuries, it wasn't until the rise of modern mineralogy that tourmaline was accurately identified by its color rather than being misclassified as ruby, sapphire, or emerald.
In the late 1800s, American gemologist George F. Kunz, an expert at Tiffany, championed tourmaline as an American gem. He documented the tourmaline deposits in Maine and California and celebrated the stunning stones they produced. Interestingly, the largest market for during that time was China.
A significant portion of pink and red tourmaline from San Diego County, California, was exported there, as Chinese Dowager Empress Tz'u Hsi cherished the hue. Skilled Chinese artisans carved the tourmaline into snuff bottles and intricate jewelry pieces.
San Diego County's esteemed tourmaline mines encompass the Tourmaline Queen, Tourmaline King, Stewart, Pala Chief, and Himalaya. Sadly, when the Chinese government collapsed in 1912, the US tourmaline trade suffered a similar fate. The once-abundant Himalaya mine experienced a sharp drop in gemstone output. However, mines like the Stewart Lithia mine in Pala still sporadically reveal gem-quality tourmaline.
Now you have a glimpse into the magical realm of tourmaline. Its hypnotizing colors and intriguing history make it a genuine gemstone marvel. Until we meet again, dear friend, may your days be as radiant as the hues of tourmaline!