Tourmaline perhaps is the most unusual semi-precious stone among all the rest due to its range of colors, and unique physical features. Our predecessors knew this mineral. The ancient authors describe the supplies of these gemstones from Scythia to Rome. After the victory of Pompey over Mithridates, the Romans discovered the full diversity of the Oriental precious stones.
The specimens of Tourmaline were among the gems and pearls that arrived from India and Ceylon. The first specimens of Tourmaline arrived at the Mediterranean markets thanks to the efforts of Arabs. We can find the first mentions of Tourmaline while studying the treatises of Theophrastus. He claims that the birthplace of this gem is the spot in the vicinity of Cyprus.
Pliny claims that the deposits of Tourmaline first found on the distant island in the Mediterranean Sea, in the iron mines of Elba. He also noted the unique physical properties of Tourmaline. Pliny mentions that the crystal of this gem capable of attracting the small object. Later, the Dutch children accidentally confirmed this fact. Only these mentions of Tourmaline described in the ancient sources. Subsequently, the information about this gem disappears from the treatises.
Tourmaline comes to the European market under the name “Brazilian Emerald.” But this term is incorrect due to a mistake of the Medieval author, De Laet. He also mistakenly thought that the gemstone described by him is harder than the genuine Emerald obtained from Peru.
In 1727, the French scientist, M. Lemery, showcased this curious stone to the French Academy of Sciences. Later, the German physician AEpinus paid attention to this enigmatic gemstone. He purchased two specimens of Tourmaline from Mr. Lechman to undertake a series of experiments. In 1756, he published the results of his studies in Berlin. Soon, many noble men conducted their experiments with this stone. English scientist, Dr. Heberden, was among them.
All these studies arouse the interest to this gem among the fashionable and philosophy societies. Shortly afterward, Tourmaline came in vogue. Carl Linnaeus, a Dutch scientist, was the first who associated the crystals of unknown gemstone delivered from Ceylon with the crystals of Black Tourmaline. It’s worth noting that this gem appeared in Europe two centuries before. Eventually, Tourmaline acquired its current name that derived from the ancient Cingalese word “Tourmali.” As a result, the abundant supplies of Tourmaline from Burma (modern Myanmar) and Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka) to Europe.
Value & Mines
The most valuable specimens of Tourmalines presented at the market are of red color due to their rarity. These crystals that similar to Ruby in color are particularly desirable. But the rose color of this stone is widespread. Black Tourmaline, known as “Schorl,” is common, whence its low price.
The deposits of Tourmaline are located all around the world, including US, Russia (Siberia, the Ural Mountains), Africa, Brazil, Oriental countries and even Afghanistan. But the most valuable specimens come from Sri Lanka and Myanmar. Also worth noting the samples of Tourmaline obtained from the Mount Mica, near Paris, Maine. Two young students-mineralogists discovered these deposits in 1820. But most of them were sold out. Now they store in various treasures around the globe. These stones passed through numerous exhibitions and eventually came in possession of Russian and Austrian crowns.