A stone cut open and polished, revealing a bright rainbow of colors
(repeating unit)
(Ca,K,Na, )(Al,Fe,Li,Mg,Mn)3(Al,Cr,Fe,V)6
IMA symbolTur[3]
Crystal systemTrigonal
Crystal classDitrigonal pyramidal (3m)
H-M symbol: (3m)
Space groupR3m (no. 160)
ColorMost commonly black, but can range from colorless to brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, pink, or hues in-between. It can also be bi-colored, or even tri-colored. Rarely, it can be found as neon green or electric blue.
Crystal habitParallel and elongated; acicular prisms, sometimes radiating; massive; scattered grains (in granite)
FractureUneven, small conchoidal
Mohs scale hardness7.0–7.5
LusterVitreous, sometimes resinous
DiaphaneityTranslucent to opaque
Specific gravity3.06+0.20–0.06[1]
Polish lusterVitreous[1]
Optical propertiesDouble-refractive, uniaxial negative[1]
Refractive indexnω = 1.635–1.675
nε = 1.610–1.650
Birefringence−0.018 to −0.040; typically about −0.020 but in dark stones it may reach −0.040[1]
  • Typically moderate to strong[1]
  • Red: definite; dark red, light red
  • Green: strong; dark green, yellow-green
  • Brown: definite; dark brown, light brown
  • Blue: strong; dark blue, light blue
Ultraviolet fluorescencePink stones; inert to very weak red to violet in long and short wave[1]
Absorption spectraStrong narrow band at 498 nm, and almost complete absorption of red down to 640 nm in blue and green stones; red and pink stones show lines at 458 and 451 nm, as well as a broad band in the green spectrum[1]
Main tourmaline producing countries

Tourmaline (/ˈtʊərməlɪn, -ˌln/ TOOR-mə-lin, -⁠leen) is a crystalline silicate mineral group in which boron is compounded with elements such as aluminium, iron, magnesium, sodium, lithium, or potassium. This gemstone comes in a wide variety of colors.

The name is derived from the Sinhalese tōramalli (ටෝරමල්ලි), which refers to the carnelian gemstones.[4]


Brightly colored Ceylonese gem tourmalines were brought to Europe in great quantities by the Dutch East India Company to satisfy a demand for curiosities and gems. Tourmaline was sometimes called the "Ceylonese Magnet" because it could attract and then repel hot ashes due to its pyroelectric properties.[5]

Tourmalines were used by chemists in the 19th century to polarize light by shining rays onto a cut and polished surface of the gem.[6]

Species and varieties

Commonly encountered species and varieties of tourmaline include the following:


A single stark green fluorite isolated on top of schorl crystals
Schorl, magnified 10×

The most common species of tourmaline is schorl, the sodium iron (divalent) endmember of the group. It may account for 95% or more of all tourmaline in nature. The early history of the mineral schorl shows that the name "schorl" was in use prior to 1400 because a village known today as Zschorlau (in Saxony, Germany) was then named "Schorl" (or minor variants of this name), and the village had a nearby tin mine where, in addition to cassiterite, black tourmaline was found. The first description of schorl with the name "schürl" and its occurrence (various tin mines in the Ore Mountains) was written by Johannes Mathesius (1504–1565) in 1562 under the title "Sarepta oder Bergpostill".[7] Up to about 1600, additional names used in the German language were "Schurel", "Schörle", and "Schurl". Beginning in the 18th century, the name Schörl was mainly used in the German-speaking area. In English, the names shorl and shirl were used in the 18th century. In the 19th century the names common schorl, schörl, schorl and iron tourmaline were the English words used for this mineral.[7]


Black dravite on a grey matrix

Dravite, also called brown tourmaline, is the sodium magnesium rich tourmaline endmember. Uvite, in comparison, is a calcium magnesium tourmaline. Dravite forms multiple series, with other tourmaline members, including schorl and elbaite.[8]

The name dravite was used for the first time by Gustav Tschermak (1836–1927), Professor of Mineralogy and Petrography at the University of Vienna, in his book Lehrbuch der Mineralogie (published in 1884) for magnesium-rich (and sodium-rich) tourmaline from village Dobrova near Unterdrauburg in the Drava river area, Carinthia, Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today this tourmaline locality (type locality for dravite) at Dobrova (near Dravograd), is a part of the Republic of Slovenia.[9] Tschermak gave this tourmaline the name dravite, for the Drava river area, which is the district along the Drava River (in German: Drau, in Latin: Drave) in Austria and Slovenia. The chemical composition which was given by Tschermak in 1884 for this dravite approximately corresponds to the formula NaMg3(Al,Mg)6B3Si6O27(OH), which is in good agreement (except for the OH content) with the endmember formula of dravite as known today.[9]

Dravite varieties include the deep green chromium dravite and the vanadium dravite.[10]


Main article: Elbaite

Elbaite with quartz and lepidolite on cleavelandite

A lithium-tourmaline elbaite was one of three pegmatitic minerals from Utö, Sweden, in which the new alkali element lithium (Li) was determined in 1818 by Johan August Arfwedson for the first time.[11] Elba Island, Italy, was one of the first localities where colored and colorless Li-tourmalines were extensively chemically analysed. In 1850 Karl Friedrich August Rammelsberg described fluorine (F) in tourmaline for the first time. In 1870 he proved that all varieties of tourmaline contain chemically bound water. In 1889 Scharitzer proposed the substitution of (OH) by F in red Li-tourmaline from Sušice, Czech Republic. In 1914 Vladimir Vernadsky proposed the name Elbait for lithium-, sodium-, and aluminum-rich tourmaline from Elba Island, Italy, with the simplified formula (Li,Na)HAl6B2Si4O21.[11] Most likely the type material for elbaite was found at Fonte del Prete, San Piero in Campo, Campo nell'Elba, Elba Island, Province of Livorno, Tuscany, Italy.[11] In 1933 Winchell published an updated formula for elbaite, H8Na2Li3Al3B6Al12Si12O62, which is commonly used to date written as Na(Li1.5Al1.5)Al6(BO3)3[Si6O18](OH)3(OH).[11] The first crystal structure determination of a Li-rich tourmaline was published in 1972 by Donnay and Barton, performed on a pink elbaite from San Diego County, California, United States.[citation needed]

Chemical composition


The tourmaline mineral group is chemically one of the most complicated groups of silicate minerals. Its composition varies widely because of isomorphous replacement (solid solution), and its general formula can be written as XY3Z6(T6O18)(BO3)3V3W, where:[12]

The 39 minerals in the group (endmember formulas) recognized by the International Mineralogical Association
Species Name Ideal Endmember Formula IMA Number Symbol
Adachiite CaFe2+3Al6(Si5AlO18)(BO3)3(OH)3OH 2012-101 Adc
Alumino-oxy-rossmanite ▢Al3Al6(Si5AlO18)(BO3)3(OH)3O 2020-008 Aorsm
Bosiite NaFe3+3(Al4Mg2)Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3O 2014-094 Bos
Celleriite ▢(Mn2+2Al)Al6(Si6O18)(BO3)3(OH)3(OH) 2019-089 Cll
Chromium-dravite NaMg3Cr6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3OH 1982-055 Cdrv
Chromo-alumino-povondraite NaCr3(Al4Mg2)Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3O 2013-089 Capov
Darrellhenryite NaLiAl2Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3O 2012-026 Dhry
Dravite NaMg3Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3OH 1884[a] Drv
Dutrowite Na(Fe2.5Ti0.5)Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3O 2019-082 Dtw
Elbaite Na(Li1.5,Al1.5)Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3OH 1913[a] Elb
Ferro-bosiite NaFe3+3(Al4Fe2+2)Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3O 2022-069 Fbos
Feruvite CaFe2+3(MgAl5)Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3OH 1987-057 Fer
Fluor-buergerite NaFe3+3Al6Si6O18(BO3)3O3F 1965-005 Fbu
Fluor-dravite NaMg3Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3F 2009-089 Fdrv
Fluor-elbaite Na(Li1.5,Al1.5)Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3F 2011-071 Felb
Fluor-liddicoatite Ca(Li2Al)Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3F 1976-041 Fld
Fluor-schorl NaFe2+3Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3F 2010-067 Fsrl
Fluor-tsilaisite NaMn2+3Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3F 2012-044 Ftl
Fluor-uvite CaMg3(Al5Mg)Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3F 1930[a] Fluvt
Foitite ▢(Fe2+2Al)Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3OH 1992-034 Foi
Lucchesiite Ca(Fe2+)3Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3O 2015-043 Lcc
Magnesio-dutrowite Na(Mg2.5Ti0.5)Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3O 2023-015 Mdtw
Magnesio-foitite ▢(Mg2Al)Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3OH 1998-037 Mfoi
Magnesio-lucchesite Ca(Mg3Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3O 2019-025 Mlcc
Maruyamaite K(MgAl2)(Al5Mg)Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3O 2013-123 Mry
Olenite NaAl3Al6Si6O18(BO3)3O3OH 1985-006 Ole
Oxy-chromium-dravite NaCr3(Mg2Cr4)Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3O 2011-097 Ocdrv
Oxy-dravite Na(Al2Mg)(Al5Mg)Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3O 2012-004 Odrv
Oxy-foitite ▢(Fe2+Al2)Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3O 2016-069 Ofoi
Oxy-schorl Na(Fe2+2Al)Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3O 2011-011 Osrl
Oxy-vanadium-dravite NaV3(V4Mg2)Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3O 1999-050 Ovdrv
Povondraite NaFe3+3(Fe3+4Mg2)Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3O 1979[b] Pov
Princivalleite Na(Mn2Al)Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3O 2020-056 Pva
Rossmanite ▢(LiAl2)Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3OH 1996-018 Rsm
Schorl NaFe2+3Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3OH 1505[a] Srl
Tsilaisite NaMn2+3Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3OH 2011-047 Tsl
Uvite CaMg3(Al5Mg)Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3OH 2000-030 Uvt
Vanadio-oxy-chromium-dravite NaV3(Cr4Mg2)Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3O 2012-034 Vocdrv
Vanadio-oxy-dravite NaV3(Al4Mg2)Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3O 2012-074 Vodrv
  1. ^ a b c d Name in existence before the IMA commission existed
  2. ^ Named 'ferridravite' in 1979; renamed to povondraite by the IMA in the 1990s

The IMA commission on new mineral names published a list of approved symbols for each mineral species in 2021.[13]

A revised nomenclature for the tourmaline group was published in 2011.[14][15][16]

Physical properties

Crystal structure

Tri-chromatic elbaite crystals on quartz, Himalaya Mine, San Diego Co., California, US

Tourmaline is a six-member ring cyclosilicate having a trigonal crystal system. It occurs as long, slender to thick prismatic and columnar crystals that are usually triangular in cross-section, often with curved striated faces. The style of termination at the ends of crystals is sometimes asymmetrical, called hemimorphism. Small slender prismatic crystals are common in a fine-grained granite called aplite, often forming radial daisy-like patterns. Tourmaline is distinguished by its three-sided prisms; no other common mineral has three sides. Prisms faces often have heavy vertical striations that produce a rounded triangular effect. Tourmaline is rarely perfectly euhedral. An exception was the fine dravite tourmalines of Yinnietharra, in western Australia. The deposit was discovered in the 1970s, but is now exhausted. All hemimorphic crystals are piezoelectric, and are often pyroelectric as well.[citation needed]

A crystal of tourmaline is built up of units consisting of a six-member silica ring that binds above to a large cation, such as sodium. The ring binds below to a layer of metal ions and hydroxyls or halogens, which structurally resembles a fragment of kaolin. This in turn binds to three triangular borate ions. Units joined end to end form columns running the length of the crystal. Each column binds with two other columns offset one-third and two-thirds of the vertical length of a single unit to form bundles of three columns. Bundles are packed together to form the final crystal structure. Because the neighboring columns are offset, the basic structural unit is not a unit cell: The actual unit cell of this structure includes portions of several units belonging to adjacent columns.[17][18]


Two dark-green rectangular tourmaline stones and one oval tourmaline stone
Bi-chromatic tourmaline crystal, 0.8 inches (2 cm) long
Tourmaline mineral, approximately 10 cm (3.9 in) tall

Tourmaline has a variety of colors. Iron-rich tourmalines are usually black to bluish-black to deep brown, while magnesium-rich varieties are brown to yellow, and lithium-rich tourmalines are almost any color: blue, green, red, yellow, pink, etc. Rarely, it is colorless. Bi-colored and multicolored crystals are common, reflecting variations of fluid chemistry during crystallization. Crystals may be green at one end and pink at the other, or green on the outside and pink inside; this type is called watermelon tourmaline and is prized in jewelry. An excellent example of watermelon tourmaline jewelry is a brooch piece (1969, gold, watermelon tourmaline, diamonds) by Andrew Grima (British, b. Italy, 1921–2007), in the collection of Kimberly Klosterman and on display at the Cincinnati Art Museum.[19] Some forms of tourmaline are dichroic; they change color when viewed from different directions.[20]

The pink color of tourmalines from many localities is the result of prolonged natural irradiation. During their growth, these tourmaline crystals incorporated Mn2+ and were initially very pale. Due to natural gamma ray exposure from radioactive decay of 40K in their granitic environment, gradual formation of Mn3+ ions occurs, which is responsible for the deepening of the pink to red color.[21]


Opaque black schorl and yellow tsilaisite are idiochromatic tourmaline species that have high magnetic susceptibilities due to high concentrations of iron and manganese respectively. Most gem-quality tourmalines are of the elbaite species. Elbaite tourmalines are allochromatic, deriving most of their color and magnetic susceptibility from schorl (which imparts iron) and tsilaisite (which imparts manganese).[citation needed]

Red and pink tourmalines have the lowest magnetic susceptibilities among the elbaites, while tourmalines with bright yellow, green and blue colors are the most magnetic elbaites. Dravite species such as green chromium dravite and brown dravite are diamagnetic. A handheld neodymium magnet can be used to identify or separate some types of tourmaline gems from others. For example, blue indicolite tourmaline is the only blue gemstone of any kind that will show a drag response when a neodymium magnet is applied. Any blue tourmaline that is diamagnetic can be identified as paraiba tourmaline colored by copper in contrast to magnetic blue tourmaline colored by iron.[22]


Some tourmaline gems, especially pink to red colored stones, are altered by heat treatment to improve their color. Overly dark red stones can be lightened by careful heat treatment. The pink color in manganese-containing near-colorless to pale pink stones can be greatly increased by irradiation with gamma-rays or electron beams. Irradiation is almost impossible to detect in tourmalines, and does not, currently, affect the value. Heavily included tourmalines, such as rubellite and Brazilian paraiba, are sometimes clarity-enhanced. A clarity-enhanced tourmaline (especially the paraiba variety) is worth much less than an untreated gem of equal clarity.[23]


Video of tourmaline ore

Tourmaline is found in granite and granite pegmatites and in metamorphic rocks such as schist and marble. Schorl and lithium-rich tourmalines are usually found in granite and granite pegmatite. Magnesium-rich tourmalines, dravites, are generally restricted to schists and marble. Tourmaline is a durable mineral and can be found in minor amounts as grains in sandstone and conglomerate, and is part of the ZTR index for highly weathered sediments.[24]


Gem and specimen tourmaline is mined chiefly in Brazil and many parts of Africa, including Tanzania, Nigeria, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Malawi, and Namibia. It is also mined in Asia, notably in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Indonesia as well as in Sri Lanka and India,[25] where some placer material suitable for gem use is found.

United States

Some fine gems and specimen material have been produced in the United States, with the first discoveries in 1822, in the state of Maine. California became a large producer of tourmaline in the early 1900s. The Maine deposits tend to produce crystals in raspberry pink-red as well as minty greens. The California deposits are known for bright pinks, as well as bicolors. During the early 1900s, Maine and California were the world's largest producers of gem tourmalines. The Empress Dowager Cixi of China loved pink tourmaline and bought large quantities for gemstones and carvings from the then new Himalaya Mine, located in San Diego County, California.[26] It is not clear when the first tourmaline was found in California. Native Americans have used pink and green tourmaline as funeral gifts for centuries. The first documented case was in 1890 when Charles Russel Orcutt found pink tourmaline at what later became the Stewart Mine at Pala, California in San Diego County.[27]


Watermelon Tourmaline mineral on quartz matrix (crystal approximately 2 cm (0.79 in) wide at face)

Almost every color of tourmaline can be found in Brazil, especially in the Brazilian states of Minas Gerais and Bahia. The new type of tourmaline, which soon became known as paraiba tourmaline, came in blue and green. Brazilian paraiba tourmaline usually contains abundant inclusions. Much of the paraiba tourmaline from Brazil does not actually comes from Paraíba, but the neighboring state of Rio Grande do Norte. Material from Rio Grande do Norte is often somewhat less intense in color, but many fine gems are found there. It was determined that the element copper was important in the coloration of the stone.[28]

A large bluish-green tourmaline from Paraiba, measuring 36.44 mm × 33.75 mm × 21.85 mm (1.43 in × 1.33 in × 0.86 in) and weighing 191.87 carats (1.3536 oz; 38.374 g), is the world's largest cut tourmaline.[29][30] Owned by Billionaire Business Enterprises,[29] it was presented in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on 14 October 2009.[30]


Paraiba tourmaline from Mozambique

In the late 1990s, copper-containing tourmaline was found in Nigeria. The material was generally paler and less saturated than the Brazilian materials, although the material generally was much less included. A more recent African discovery from Mozambique has also produced tourmaline colored by copper, similar to the Brazilian paraiba. The Mozambique paraiba material usually is more intensely colored than the Nigerian and Mozambique Paraiba tourmaline have similar colors to the Brazilian Paraiba, but the prices are relatively cheaper, better clarity and larger sizes. In recent years the pricing of these beautiful gemstones has increased significantly.[31]

Another highly valuable variety is chrome tourmaline, a rare type of dravite tourmaline from Tanzania. Chrome tourmaline is a rich green color due to the presence of chromium atoms in the crystal. Of the standard elbaite colors, blue indicolite gems are typically the most valuable,[32] followed by green verdelite and pink to red rubellite.[33]

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i GIA Gem Reference Guide. Gemological Institute of America. 1995. ISBN 0-87311-019-6.
  2. ^ "Tourmaline". Archived from the original on 2005-12-28. Retrieved 2005-09-12. This website details specifically and clearly how the complicated chemical formula is structured.((cite web)): CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  3. ^ Warr, L. N. (2021). "IMA–CNMNC approved mineral symbols". Mineralogical Magazine. 85 (3): 291–320. Bibcode:2021MinM...85..291W. doi:10.1180/mgm.2021.43. S2CID 235729616.
  4. ^ "tourmaline". Oxford Dictionaries. Archived from the original on October 16, 2021. Retrieved 2021-03-19.
  5. ^ Erhart, Jiri; Kittinger, Erwin; Prívratská, Jana (2010). Fundamentals of Piezoelectric Sensorics: Mechanical, Dielectric, and Thermodynamical Properties of Piezoelectric Materials. Springer. p. 4. ISBN 9783540684275.
  6. ^ Draper, John William (1861). A Textbook on chemistry. New York: Harper and Brothers. p. 93.
  7. ^ a b Ertl, 2006.
  8. ^ "What is Tourmaline? – GIA".
  9. ^ a b Ertl, 2007.
  10. ^ "Tourmaline Information – Gemstone Education".
  11. ^ a b c d Ertl, 2008.
  12. ^ Hawthorne, F.C. & Henry, D.J. (1999). "Classification of the minerals of the tourmaline group" Archived 2007-10-16 at the Wayback Machine. European Journal of Mineralogy, 11, pp. 201–215.
  13. ^ Warr, L.N. "IMA–CNMNC approved mineral symbols." Mineralogical Magazine, 2021, v. 85, p. 291–320. doi:10.1180/mgm.2021.43.
  14. ^ Darrell J. Henry, Milan Novák, Frank C. Hawthorne, Andreas Ertl, Barbara L. Dutrow, Pavel Uher, and Federico Pezzotta (2011). "Nomenclature of the tourmaline-supergroup minerals" (PDF). American Mineralogist. 96 (5–6): 895–913. Bibcode:2011AmMin..96..895H. doi:10.2138/am.2011.3636. S2CID 38696645. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-03-26.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  15. ^ Erratum: American Mineralogist (2013), Volume 98, page 524.
  16. ^ Frank C. Hawthorne and Dona M. Dirlam. "Tourmaline: Tourmaline the Indicator Mineral: From Atomic Arrangement to Viking Navigation." Elements, October 2011, v. 7, p. (5): 307–312, doi:10.2113/gselements.7.5.307.
  17. ^ Hamburger, Gabrielle E.; Buerger, M.J. (1948). "The structure of tourmaline". American Mineralogist. 33 (9–10): 532–540. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  18. ^ Nesse, William D. (2000). Introduction to mineralogy. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 303–304. ISBN 9780195106916.
  19. ^ "Simply Brilliant – An Exceptional Collection of Fine Jewelry with Outstanding Stones and Crystals | GeoRarities". 2022-01-19. Retrieved 2022-01-27.
  20. ^ "Tourmaline | mineral". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2021-06-03.
  21. ^ Reinitz & Rossman, 1988.
  22. ^ Kirk Feral Magnetism in Gemstones Archived 2013-12-03 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Kurt Nassau (1984), Gemstone Enhancement: Heat, Irradiation, Impregnation, Dyeing, and Other Treatments, Butterworth Publishers
  24. ^ Hubert, John F. (1962-09-01). "A zircon-tourmaline-rutile maturity index and the interdependence of the composition of heavy mineral assemblages with the gross composition and texture of sandstones". Journal of Sedimentary Research. 32 (3). doi:10.1306/74D70CE5-2B21-11D7-8648000102C1865D. ISSN 1527-1404. Archived from the original on 2018-01-04.
  25. ^ Dana, James Dwight; Klien, Cornelis; Hurlbut, Cornelius Searle (1977). Manual of Mineralogy (19th ed.). John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 9780471032885.
  26. ^ Rynerson, Fred (1977). Exploring and Mining Gems and Gold in the West. Naturegraph. ISBN 9780911010602.
  27. ^ Johnson, Paul Willard (Winter 1968–69). "Common Gems of San Diego". Gems and Gemology. XII: 358.
  28. ^ Rossman et al. 1991.
  29. ^ a b "Largest cut Paraiba Tourmaline". Guinness World Records. 2014. Archived from the original on 26 September 2014. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  30. ^ a b King, Mike (October 17, 2009). "Giant jewel breaks record". Montreal Gazette. Canwest News Service. Archived from the original on 2013-04-02 – via
  31. ^ ""Paraiba Tourmaline"-type Copper-bearing Tourmaline from Brazil, Nigeria, and Mozambique".
  32. ^ Augustyn, Allison; Grande, Lance (2009). Gems and Gemstones: Timeless Natural Beauty of the Mineral World. University of Chicago Press. p. 152. ISBN 978-0226305110. Archived from the original on 2018-04-29 – via Google Books.
  33. ^ "Tourmaline: The gemstone Tourmaline information and pictures". Archived from the original on 2017-10-16. Retrieved 2018-01-04.

General and cited sources

Further reading