Megan's Fun Facts: Colored Stones from Brazil -- TOURMALINE


Tourmaline is a crystal 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. No two tourmalines are exactly alike. Usually, iron-rich tourmalines are black to bluish-black to deep brown, while magnesium-rich varieties are brown to yellow, and lithium-rich tourmalines are almost any color: blue, green, red, yellow, pink etc. Rarely, it is colorless. Bi-colored and multicolored crystals are common, reflecting variations of fluid chemistry during crystallization. Crystals may be green at one end and pink at the other, or green on the outside and pink inside: this type is called watermelon tourmaline. Some forms of tourmaline are dichroic, in that they change color when viewed from different directions.

Almost every color of tourmaline can be found in Brazil, especially in the Brazilian states of Minas Gerais and Bahia. In 1989, miners discovered a unique and brightly colored variety of tourmaline in the state of ParaĆ­ba. The new type of tourmaline, which soon became known as "paraiba tourmaline", came in unusually vivid blues and greens. These colors were often described as "neon" since they appeared to glow. Brazilian paraiba tourmaline is usually heavily included. Much of the paraiba tourmaline from Brazil actually comes from the neighboring state of Rio Grande do Norte. Material from Rio Grande do Norte is often somewhat less intense in color, but many fine gems are found there. It was determined that the element copper was important in the coloration of the stone.

Tourmalines are known as October’s birthstone, and are gifted for the 8th wedding anniversary.

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