Tourmaline

Tourmaline is a very attractive gem that occurs naturally in many different colors.  Its name is derived from the word toramalli, which means "mixed gems" in Sinhalese, one of the languages spoken in Sri Lanka.

In 1554, Spanish conquistador Francisco Spinoza discovered green tourmaline crystals during a Brazilian expedition, which he mistook for emerald.  It wasn't until the 1800s that mineralogists finally identified tourmaline as its own species.

Fun Fact:  Tourmaline is both pyroelectric and piezoelectric, meaning it is a gem that becomes electrically charged when heated or squeezed!

While tourmaline occurs in many different colors, it can also occur in bicolor or tricolor crystals.  Watermelon tourmaline is an example of a tricolor tourmaline that is often cut into slices, showing off its unique coloring.

Paraiba tourmaline is the most valuable variety of tourmaline, and is known for its neon blue to green hues.