October’s Alternate Birthstone: Tourmaline
Where is Tourmaline Mined?
The Southwest, including Arizona, does not boast any tourmaline mines but our neighbor California and the state of Maine currently produce some small amounts of this beautiful stone. To find the largest deposits of this alternate birthstone you could travel to the country of Brazil where it was first discovered. Because of its brilliant, rich variety of colors tourmaline was often mistaken for sapphires, rubies and emeralds. In fact, from the 1500’s until more modern technology and terminology developed in the 1800’s, tourmaline was not distinctly named until then. A few other notable discoveries of tourmaline have occured in Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan and Mozambique.
Brief Tourmaline Background
As mentioned above, because tourmaline was mis-identified as other gems it has most likely been used in South America and different parts of the world for centuries but just under different names. It is due to this confusion that the stone was given the name tourmaline, stemming from the word ‘toramalli’ meaning mixed gems, in the language of Sri Lanka. In 1892, tourmaline was discovered in California and became popular, especially as an export to China and it was in such demand that when the Chinese government collapsed in the 1940’s, the trade of tourmaline from the US also diminished. It is hard to pinpoint exactly when tourmaline was deemed the secondary birthstone of October but the ‘official birthstone list’ was created by the National Association of Jewelers in 1912.
The Color Range of Tourmaline
The beauty of tourmaline is that it occurs in every color of the rainbow! Because of its composition it is the most varied gemstone known to man which also makes it a popular alternative to more expensive stones such as emeralds, rubies and sapphires. The stone can be beautifully cut in most any style and even has a cat’s eye effect in some stones. Some versions of tourmaline are called a ‘watermelon’ color which shows multicolor striations in the same stone.
Color of Tourmaline: Every color of the spectrum
Birthstone Month: October
Wedding Anniversary Year: 8
We hope you enjoy learning about these fun alternate birthstones and we are always happy to answer any questions about your jewelry! Our jewelry collection includes a lot of tourmaline so feel free to come see all the fun pieces at out Gilbert showroom.