Locality - Madagascar
Size – 34 x 31 x 17mm
Weight – 28g
This schorl tourmaline freeform has dramatic jet black colour throughout and displays a very subtle golden chatoyancy. It is a particularly rare piece considering that this material is rarely hand polished. With a smooth, nicely rounded form and a glossy luster, this freeform is comfortable to hold in the hand and small enough to carry through the day.
About Schorl Tourmaline
Schorl is the black, sodium iron rich variety of Tourmaline, the most widespread variety of tourmaline, accounting for around 95% of those discovered. Unlike many other varieties, schorl tourmaline is entirely opaque, never found transparent or even semi-translucent. Fine specimens boast dark, jet black colouration and impressive, mirror-like lustre, considered some of the most aesthetic black minerals known.
Tourmaline in History
Tourmaline is fanatically popular amongst mineral collectors and gem lovers alike for its exceptional variety of colours, many specimens being bi-coloured, and its unique, slender form caused by three-sided trigonal system crystallisation. There are a wide variety of tourmaline variants known, the most common and popular being schorl, dravite and elbaite, though the lesser known members include uvite, liddicoatite and buergerite, and there are yet more incredibly rare variants scarcely mentioned. By far, the most sought after and valuable form of tourmaline is the rare neon-blue form known by the trade name 'paraiba tourmaline', and the red and green variety 'watermelon tourmaline' is also a favourite of many. Mineralogically, tourmaline is a crystalline boron silicate mineral compounded with elements such as aluminium, iron, magnesium, sodium, lithium, or potassium. Various tourmalines are mined in numerous localities throughout the world including Africa, Afghanistan, Africa, Australia, Brazil, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Siberia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, the USA, and Zimbabwe.
Tourmaline was first unofficially discovered in Brazil in the 1500's by a Spanish conquistador who mistook the green gem for an emerald, at the same time when many gems were given mistaken identities due to being recognized by colour alone. It was not officially identified as a distinct mineral species until 1703 when Dutch lapidaries realized that some of the 'zircons' that were being imported to the Netherlands were in fact a different variety of mineral. The Sinhalese name 'tourmali' was originally the term used in Sri Lanka to describe mixed gems, mostly zircons, and it was not named 'tourmaline' until 1794 after various name changes and abbreviations. Tourmaline made its way into the commercial gem industry in 1876 when mineralogist George Kunz sold a green tourmaline gem to the famous Tiffany and Co, gaining the gem much recognition and desirability. More recently, Brazilian discoveries of vividly coloured tourmaline in the 1980's, particularly the blue 'paraiba' variant, popularized and heightened its appeal, and it has been widely treasured and sought after to this day.
Tourmaline has been mentioned in various folklore legends throughout the world. One of the most iconic is an Egyptian legend that tells how tourmaline acquired its exquisite array of colours when it passed through a rainbow on its journey up from deep within the earth.