The word Tourmaline refers to a group of many closely connected minerals. The three most relevant ones are Elbaite, Schorl, and Dravite. Other lesser known members comprise Uvite, Liddicoatite and Buergerite.
Tourmaline is very favored among connoisseurs and is a recognized gemstone. It is the most multicolored mineral type known: it’s possible to find tourmalines in practically every color of the spectrum.
The color of some Tourmaline can be boosted through heat treatment. Some greenish stones can be rendered deep-green, some brownish-red stones can turned into an intense red, and light pink stones can be made colorless thanks to heating processes.
Tourmaline has fascinating optical qualities. One of them is pleochroism which means that when the specimen is viewed through its vertical axis, it appears darker in color than when seen through the horizontal axis. The color can also vary depending on the angle because of the pleochroism. That’s why cabochon-cut Tourmalines show an impressive “cat’s eye effect”.
Tourmaline is both pyroelectric and piezoelectric. If a sample is compressed or its temperature is altered, it will produce an electrical charge. When this occurs, dust particles become attached to the crystal ends.
Tourmalines, especially black ones, are believed to carry powerful empathic and protective abilities. That’s why Black Tourmaline is loved by healers. For example, Tourmaline’s pyroelectric qualities allow it to attract and then nullify hot ashes.
Tourmaline was found before 1400 near tin mines in Germany and can be located almost everywhere the world. In the East, Tourmalines where used in India and China for sacred ceremonies and rituals. In the West, application goes back to the 19th century, when chemists used Tourmalines to polarise light.
Tourmaline’s pleochroic and pyroelectric properties are also believed to enable this stone (especially the Black Tourmaline) to actively deflect negative energies from ourselves. It is also believed to shield us from nightmares and bad dreams.