For centuries tourmalines have adorned the jewels of royalty. The Empress Dowager Tz'u Hsi, the last Empress of China, valued the rich pink colors above all other gemstones. The people of ancient Ceylon called tourmaline "turmali," the Sinhalese word for "more colors." Perhaps this is why ancient mystics believed tourmaline could encourage artistic intuition: it has the palette to express every mood.
Vivid reds, hot pinks, verdant greens, and blues abound in this marvelous gem variety. Earth tones as varied as a prairie sunset are readily available. Not only does tourmaline occur in a spectacular range of colors, but it also combines those colors in a single gemstone called "bi-color" or "parti-color" tourmaline. One color combination with a pink center and a green outer rim is called "watermelon" tourmaline and is cut in thin slices similar to its namesake.
Dark blue, blue-green, and green tourmalines are occasionally heated to lighten their color. Red tourmalines, also known as rubellites, and pink varieties are sometimes heated or irradiated to improve their colors. Heat and irradiation color enhancement of tourmalines is permanent.
Occasionally, some tourmalines may have surface-breaking fissures that are filled with resins, with or without hardeners. Care must be observed with these gemstones. Avoid exposing them to harsh abrasives and strong chemical solvents.