Tourmaline is one of the most important mineral resources in the world. It is a rock-forming mineral found in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks. Tourmaline is also found in coal deposits and has been mined as a gemstone. Tourmaline was first discovered in Ceylon by French geologist Pierre-Marie Emile Biot (also known as P.E.B). The name tourmaline comes from two different worlds, "Tur," which means torch or incense stick, and "Malina," which means shining stone, so the tourmaline translates to "shining stone." A more mineralogical term for this gem is "silicate of boron."
Tourmaline is a complex silicate and can contain elements such as aluminum, iron (Fe), magnesium (Mg), sodium, lithium (Li), or lead. The word tourmaline comes from the Sinhalese word turamali which means a rock that has mixed many colors. Tourmaline are formed in six distinct colors: black, brown, blue, green (or yellow-green), pink, and red. Pink tourmalines are the rarest of all types of tourmaline.
Common uses for tourmaline include industrial uses such as heating elements or scientific uses such as infrared optical systems. It is also used in healing practices, specifically jewelry rings and necklaces (the price often determines the size of the stones; the more expensive stones are larger). Tourmaline can be found worldwide, but it's most abundant in Brazil, Myanmar, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, and the United States.
Tourmaline is found in a wide range of colors, much more than other gemstones such as diamonds or rubies. Although there are many different colored tourmalines, a few particular colors are seen more often than others: black, blue, green (or yellow-green), pink, and red.
The most commonly found tourmaline is black tourmaline, which is also the least expensive of all colored tourmaline. Black tourmaline can be found in almost every single state in the United States besides Alaska. Native Americans used it as a tool for finding water sources or guiding you through dense forests.
Towards the end of 2007, blue tourmaline began to rise in popularity. Due to a relatively recent discovery, blue and green tourmaline are now being mass-produced for gemstones. There are many rare colors of tourmalines, such as yellow or pink, that can be found, but they are not common on the market.
Blue tourmaline is the most expensive stone on the market because it is an extremely rare gemstone. It's so rare that only one person, Thomas Kunz, has ever seen and documented all of its forms in his book Gem Tourmalines: From Afghanistan to Zaire. Blue tourmaline can be found mainly in Brazil, Nigeria, Russia, Afghanistan, and Zaire.
Pink tourmaline is the rarest color of all types of all tourmalines because it's challenging to obtain pink-colored tourmaline from nature. Pink tourmaline can be found in Brazil, Madagascar, Nigeria, Namibia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.