Now it’s Crystal Clear: Tourmaline

Welcome to ‘Now it’s Crystal Clear’ series! This week’s topic is all about Tourmaline.

Cluster of Tourmaline gemstones

Tourmaline gemstone is a semi-precious mineral similar to granite. With colors ranging from magenta to teal-blue, meadow-green to vibrant yellow, and even black, tourmaline gets its name from the Singhalese phrase “tura mali,” which means, “stone mixed with vibrant colors.” It’s believed that no two tourmaline stones have the exact same color!

Historicaly revered as a “magic” stone that is capable of protecting its wearer, it is said that Tourmaline has powerful effects such as: helps with detoxification, supports fat loss, reduces water retention, improves circulation, supports the liver and kidney, promotes a healthy mood, helps eliminate toxic metals and reduces lactic acids and free fatty acids. [**]

I’d have to agree that these stones are magical — just by looking at the colors they naturally form in are absolutely incredible!

Many tourmaline color varieties have inspired their own trade names:

Rubellite is a name for pink, red, purplish red, orangy red, or brownish red tourmaline, although some in the trade argue that the term shouldn’t apply to pink tourmaline.
Indicolite is dark violetish blue, blue, or greenish blue tourmaline.
Paraíba is an intense violetish blue, greenish blue, or blue tourmaline from the state of Paraíba, Brazil.
Chrome tourmaline is intense green. In spite of its name, it’s colored mostly by vanadium, the same element that colors many Brazilian and African emeralds.
Parti-colored tourmaline displays more than one color. One of the most common combinations is green and pink, but many others are possible.
Watermelon tourmaline is pink in the center and green around the outside. Crystals of this material are typically cut in slices to display this special arrangement. [***]

Deposits of Tourmaline are in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, Burma (Myanmar), Sri Lanka (Ceylon), and the United States (California and Maine). Several African countries have recently become big producers of gem Tourmaline, specifically Madagascar, Namibia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Malawi. [****]

KKB Metal Studio Tourmaline sterling silver pendants

KKB Metal Studio blue Tourmaline sterling silver pendant
Ever since I first saw Kristen’s work on Instagram, creator of KKB Metal Studio, I considered her to be an inspirational metalsmith! I’ve been waiting to find and snag a piece of hers that I could call my own and this was it! I saw the first photo above of all three pieces and my eyes immediately gravitated towards the blue/grey tourmaline with the reticulated/textured pebble charm that reminded me of the ocean waves. She perfectly describes these pieces as “a perfect mix of grit and glamour, these pieces make for easy, everyday wear; a wabi sabi piece” and I couldn’t agree more! If you act fast the pink tourmaline is still available in her shop and she has some other great pieces listed as well! 🙂 – photos by Kristen, KKB Metal Studio

[**] =https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/benefits-of-tourmaline-gemstone/

[***] = https://www.gia.edu/tourmaline-description

[****] = http://www.minerals.net/gemstone/tourmaline_gemstone.aspx

[All photos and information are linked/credited to the original authors and sources unless otherwise stated].

Gem talk 101: White Buffalo Turquoise

One of my Instagram friends Valentina, who is the artist behind Solis.Designs,  recently had a shop update with a great selection of beautiful pieces. From large statement rings to dainty layering necklaces, it was such an inspiration to see her creative designs as well as her abundant use of turquoise and other natural stones!

I just love her work — so you can imagine how hard it was deciding which of the pieces in her collection to choose from!

I ended up purchasing this beautiful dainty White Buffalo turquoise necklace!

Solis.Designs dainty White Buffalo Turquoise necklace

Solis.Designs dainty layering gemstone necklaces, white buffalo turquoise, royston turquoise
The necklace I purchased and some of her other dainty layering necklaces — so cute! I love the bright blue Royston turquoise piece as well — too bad I didn’t get to it first 😉 Happy with my little White Buffalo though! 🙂 – photos by Valentina, Solis.Designs

However, it got me thinking — as beautiful as White Buffalo turquoise is, I don’t know much about the stone.

It turns out that it’s a rare stone! Found and mined by the Otteson family in Tonopah, Nevada, it’s the only location in the world where it’s found! Sometimes called ‘albino turquoise’ or –incorrectly– ‘white turquoise’, this white stone is surrounded by black and brown flint-like chert (an opaque variety of quartz). This creates beautiful patterns, and sometimes in rare pieces, a spider-web matrix. The stone appears in veins and is as hard as turquoise (Mohs hardness scale of 5.5 to 7.5). It cuts and polishes just like turquoise, which is why a lot of people incorrectly call this stone ‘white turquoise’. [**]

For in reality, there is no pure ‘white turquoise’ that exists — white turquoise-type material that surrounds turquoise in the mines and tests as turquoise, is too light and soft to use. Most pieces that are usable will have some form of a blue or green tint to them. [***]

Being in such high demand and very popular, some stones are sold off as ‘white turquoise’ to consumers in the market. Those stones are Howlite and Magnesite. So — how can you tell which is which and what is sold to you is real or fake? I’m here to tell you how in Gem Talk 101!

Howlite is a porous borate mineral that often appears in irregular nodules resembling cauliflower. It is a snow white to milky stone, often with brown, grey or black veins. It is sometimes passed off as white turquoise or White Buffalo. It is also dyed to imitate blue or green turquoise. It is quite soft with a Mohs hardness of 3.5 in contrast to turquoise which usually ranges from 5-7. It also scratches easily — which is something you should look out for when purchasing jewelry with this stone. [**]

Howlite stones

Here’s an example … a White Buffalo turquoise pendant vs. a Howlite pendant — can you tell the difference?

If you look closely, you can see that on the left — the veins are a grey/light black and the stone looks soft, opaque and milky, which makes it a Howlite stone. On the right — it’s a harder looking stone with black veins and some flecks of brown mixed in, which makes it a White Buffalo turquoise stone.

Magnesite is a calcite group mineral that contains the chemical formula “magnesium carbonate” (MgCO3). It usually forms in three-dimensional rhombohedral shaped crystals and cleavage fragments when magnesium-rich rocks come into contact with carbon dioxide-rich water.

When mined, Magnesite usually appears as chalky white, but can also be found in gray, brown, yellow, orange, pale pink and colorless varieties too. In terms of luster, it is often dull, with a matte surface in its original state. A little harder than Howlite, it rates 3.5 to 4.5 on the Mohs scale, still below that of most turquoise.

It is often dyed to a light blue color and because of its dark veining, it very closely resembles turquoise. In some cases, Magnesite is passed off as turquoise by unaware or unscrupulous dealers and sellers. [**] So be on the look out for it next time you’re in the market for turquoise!

stock image of gemstone beads

[**] = https://nativeamericanjewelrytips.wordpress.com/2017/11/15/white-turquoise-demystified/

[***] = https://www.durangosilver.com/white-turquoise.html

[All photos and information are linked/credited to the original authors and sources unless otherwise stated].