Published December 2012
by Judy Jenkins, JTV contributing author
Beads fashioned from genuine gemstones can set your projects on fire with play-of-light and color. One of the gemstones that really speaks to the eye is tourmaline. It is a magnificent gemstone, and while it can be on the pricey side, tourmaline jewelry always earns oohs and aahs! The rondelles below are predrilled and show that range of color in tourmaline beads that awaits your creativity.
Ancient legend in Sri Lanka suggests that tura mali (Singhalese meaning "many colors") traveled from the center of the earth and passed over a rainbow and gathered the spectrum of the rainbow's colors. Today we know tura mali as tourmaline; a gemstone of many unusual colors with an exciting array of names such as neon-blue Paraiba, green chrome, watermelon and rubellite. Some tourmaline possesses rare show-stopping qualities and appear bi-color, multicolor, chatoyant (cat's eye) and dichroic (stone appears different colors when viewed from different angles.)
Tourmaline does not disappoint the casual jewelry customer or the most demanding buyer looking for unusual additions to a collection. It is relatively hard--7 to 7.5 on the Mohs Hardness Scale--meaning it is not easily scratched and suitable for rings and bracelets. The collector may choose from colorless to black and most any combination of colors between.
Deposits of tourmaline are found around the world, including California and Maine, and it is the national gemstone of the United States of America. The spectacularly intense blue gems from the mines of Paraiba, Brazil are pricey beauties, their rarity and popularity making them competitors with high-end ruby and sapphire. The beautiful greens, reds, pinks, yellows and black can be found in many locations including Africa, South America, Siberia, Tanzania, Afghanistan, Australia, Nigeria and Sri Lanka.
A couple of interesting facts about tourmaline:
1. After heating and cooling, a tourmaline will have electrical properties--positive at one end and negative at the other. It will also become charged under pressure and will oscillate when the pressure is removed and the polarity changes.
2. Many cultures believe tourmaline will strengthen the body and spirit while inspiring creativity. And although Jewelry Television doesn't sell gemstones based upon their folklore or reported healing properties, we do see how the beautiful hues of tourmaline could inspire your creativity!
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