The Jewel Box’s Mirabelle Pink Tourmaline and Ruby Necklace
Gemmologist Lucy Reynaud, FGA DG GIA, explains why Pink Tourmaline is the other October birthstone
The idea of having a gemstone to represent each month, as a Birthstone, has been around since written time began, although as you may have already read in our article on the other October birthstone, it wasn’t always Pink Tourmaline.
The First Century Roman-Jewish historian Josephus tells us birthstones originated on the breastplate of Aaron, with each stone representing the 12 months of the year and accruing 12 signs of the zodiac, although others say the breastplates stones signified each of the 12 tribes of Israel.
For a long time birthstones rotated in and out, with style and availability sometimes determining which stones would reign, until in 1912, the National Association of Jewellers standardized the list, and at that time Opal was the only birthstone for October.
However, the Jewellery Industry Council of America updated this list in 1952, and added Pink Tourmaline as one of the Birthstones of October.
What is a Tourmaline?
The name tourmaline comes from the Sinhalese (Sri Lanka) word turomalli, which translates as “the stone of mixed colours”. It’s a term Dutch merchants applied to the multi-coloured, water-worn pebbles that miners found in the gem gravels of Sri Lanka.
Ancient legend says that tourmaline is found in all colours because it travelled along a rainbow and gathered all the rainbow’s colours… which is a far more poetic description of Tourmaline than the one this writer was taught when studying gemmology – that tourmalines are a “Chemical Rubbish Bin”.
What my learned Professor meant is that Tourmalines are one of the most complex gemstones. Unlike stones such as Diamonds, which are made of pure Carbon (Formula = C), or Sapphires, which are Aluminium Oxide (Formula = Al203, then various small amounts of other chemical elements which create different colours), Tourmalines are made up principally of Aluminium, Magnesium, Iron… and a whole myriad of other elements. The ‘official’ formula for it is so long and complicated I’m not even going to put it in here.
So – what is interesting about the “Chemical Rubbish Bin” of gemstones? Because of their varied chemical makeup, they exist in some truly amazing colours, and can even be tri-coloured, going from red to colourless to green, as the chemical elements present have changed as the crystal has been forming.
Pretty Pink Tourmalines
Pink Tourmalines are just one of the spectrum of colours of tourmalines, but the way that they come by their colour is fascinating. Although they are sometimes confused with Rubelite, which is the name given to red and pinkish-red tourmalines, Pink Tourmaline is in fact the result of prolonged natural irradiation; the process by which an object is exposed to radiation.
Discover our Mirabelle Pink Tourmaline and Ruby Necklace
During their growth, these tourmaline crystals incorporate manganese and are initially very pale. Due to natural gamma ray exposure from radioactive decay of potassium in their growth environment, gradual formation of manganese phosphate ions occurs, responsible for the deepening of the tourmalines colour to pink. But have no fear! This type of radiation isn’t dangerous at all, just very pretty to look at.
One of Tourmalines’ most distinguishing properties is its ability to become electrically charged simply by heating or rubbing it. When charged, one end becomes positive and the other negative, allowing it to attract particles of dust or bits of paper. This property of pyro electricity (from heat) or piezoelectricity (from pressure or rubbing) was well-known to the Dutch traders of the 1700s who used Tourmaline to pull ash from their Meerschaum pipes, calling the stone Aschentrekker, or “ash puller.”
It is a relatively hard stone, ranking at 7.5 on the Mohs scale, making it appropriate for everyday wear. It is mostly found in Brazil, Sri Lanka and various gem producing countries in Africa such as Tanzania, Nigeria, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia.
The Jewel Box’s Carnival Necklace also features Pink Tourmaline gemstones
Pink Tourmaline is also associated with the heart chakra in Hinduism and Buddhism, signifying unconditional love and compassion.
Here at The Jewel Box, we would love to help you create a piece of pretty Pink Tourmaline jewellery. Call us on +65 6733 4100 to make an appointment.
Discover the other October birthstone, the Opal.