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October’s birthstone: Tourmaline

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

Welcome to the world of tourmaline in part 2 of October’s birthstone blog!

October's birthstone tourmaline |


Tourmaline gets its name from a Sinhalese phrase ‘tura mali’, which means ‘stone mixed with many colours’ in this native language of Sri Lanka. The presence of different elements in tourmaline’s makeup produces its plethora of colour variations. A tourmaline rich in iron will be black, blue-black dark brown and one rich in magnesium will be mid-brown to yellow one. Add lithium, though, and the sky’s the limit – the presence of lithium can produce a tourmaline of almost any colour!

Many tourmalines have more than one colour within the same stone. Watermelon tourmaline is the best known of these varieties and, as the name suggests, occurs in green and pink layers that look almost good enough to eat!

If the choice of colour isn’t enough to pique your interest, how about tourmaline’s optical properties?

Some tourmalines seem to change colour under different light sources and some display chatoyancy, which gives them the appearance of a cat’s eye.

Let’s not forget tourmaline’s interesting chemical properties either. Famous 19th century art critic and polymath John Ruskin once described the chemical makeup of tourmaline as being ‘more like a doctor’s prescription than the making of a reputable mineral’! Swedish botanist Carl Von Linne described tourmaline as ‘the electric’ stone because it acquires an electrical charge when rubbed, attracting small particles like dust. Well, that might make the weekly clean a bit more interesting!

October’s birthstone has many traditional uses, too. Long considered to be a stone useful to those in creative industries, a tourmaline would make a lovely personal gift for an author, artist or designer.

Tourmaline is also believed to have health-giving and healing properties. It was once thought that tourmaline had the power to induce sleep in feverish patients. Modern-day crystal healers often use tourmaline to promote vitality and vigour in those they treat. It’s said that some athletes have reported faster recovery from intense workouts when using the stone.

Just in case you missed it, here’s part 1 of this month’s birthstone blog to learn all about opal!

Kim Rix, GG GIA

Be sure. Be smart. Buy with confidence

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