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What is the official birthstone for October?

What is the official birthstone for October?

The official birthstone for the month of October is tourmaline. Tourmaline is a semi-precious gemstone that comes in a wide variety of colors. Some of the most popular tourmaline colors are pink, red, green, blue, and multicolored. Tourmaline has been appreciated as a gemstone for centuries, but was only officially designated as the October birthstone in 1912.

History of Tourmaline

The history of tourmaline dates back hundreds of years. The ancient Egyptians used tourmaline as a protective amulet and the Romans valued tourmaline for its many colors. In the 1500s, Spanish conquistadors discovered tourmaline deposits in Brazil. The vibrant gemstones were exported back to Europe, where they became popular in royal jewelry. The name “tourmaline” comes from the Sinhalese word “turmali”, meaning “mixed precious stones”. This refers to the wide variety of colors that occur in tourmaline.

For centuries, red tourmaline was often confused with ruby. Green tourmaline was sometimes mistaken for emerald. It wasn’t until the 1800s that modern mineralogy firmly established tourmaline as its own unique gemstone species. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, major tourmaline deposits were discovered in California and Maine. These new American sources made tourmaline more available and popular in jewelry.

The American National Association of Jewelers officially adopted tourmaline as the October birthstone in 1912. Prior to this, opal was considered the traditional birthstone for October. Tourmaline was considered a suitable October birthstone due to its fall-like colors. The rich shades of red, orange, and green evoked the changing leaves of autumn.

Colors and Properties of Tourmaline

Tourmaline is a crystalline boron silicate mineral. It is renowned for exhibiting a wide spectrum of colors. While other colored gemstones usually occur in one or two primary hues, tourmaline can display every color of the rainbow. Some tourmaline crystals reveal multiple colors in a single specimen.

Here are some of the most popular tourmaline color varieties:

  • Pink tourmaline – Ranges from pale pink to deep red-pink. Red and pink tourmaline are sometimes referred to as “rubellite”.
  • Green tourmaline – Varies from light mint green to deep forest green.
  • Blue tourmaline – Colored by traces of copper, blue tourmaline spans from pale to dark indigo blue.
  • Multicolored tourmaline – Some crystals display multiple hues such as pink and green, red and blue, or yellow and violet.
  • Watermelon tourmaline – Exhibits pink core with green outer layer, resembling its namesake fruit.

In addition to its kaleidoscopic colors, tourmaline is also a durable gemstone suited for jewelry use. On the Mohs scale of hardness, tourmaline ranks 7 to 7.5, making it durable enough for everyday wear. The crystalline structure of tourmaline also allows it to exhibit the optical phenomenon of pleochroism. This makes the gem appear to change color when viewed from different angles.

Tourmaline’s wide range of colors offers a birthstone option for October-born people with any personal color preference. Green tourmaline is associated with the heart chakra and promotes compassion, tenderness, and regeneration. Pink tourmaline is linked to the heart chakra and thought to inspire creativity and romance. Watermelon tourmaline combines the properties of its pink and green components.

October Birthstones Table

Birthstone Colors Meaning & Uses
Tourmaline Pink, red, green, blue, multicolor Balance, compassion, creativity, romance
Opal White, black, fiery Hope, innocence, optimism

Tourmaline is the primary modern birthstone for October. However, opal is still considered an alternate October birthstone. Opals display a unique play-of-color and were traditionally the birthstone for October before tourmaline’s addition in 1912. The opal’s rainbow flashes carry meanings of hope, innocence and optimism.

Where is Tourmaline Found?

Significant tourmaline deposits have been found in Brazil, Afghanistan, India, Sri Lanka, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, and Tanzania. In the United States, tourmaline is mined in Maine and California. Maine produces fine red and green tourmaline. California’s tourmaline outputs include pink, blue, and multicolored gems.

Some of the most valuable tourmaline specimens come from Brazil. The classic Brazilian tourmaline color is a jewel-toned emerald green. Vivid red “rubellite” tourmalines also come from Brazil, along with valuable watermelon tourmaline crystals. The richest tourmaline mine in Brazil is Minas Gerais, which has produced over 200 tons of gem-quality tourmaline.

Afghanistan is another key source for fine tourmaline gems. The rugged mountains of Afghanistan yield tourmalines in blues, pinks, and yellows. Nigerian tourmaline is also treasured for its bright pink-red hues. The highest quality Nigerian tourmalines have sold for over $1 million per carat at auction.

Notable Tourmalines

Some exceptional tourmaline specimens have become famous worldwide. Here are a few of the most renowned tourmalines:

  • The Cuprian Elbaite is an 8.26 carat emerald green tourmaline owned by the Smithsonian Institution. It has one of the richest natural green colors ever seen in a tourmaline.
  • At 175 carats, the Queen Marie of Romania tourmaline is one of the largest and finest pink tourmalines. This flawless deep pink gem was owned by Queen Marie and displayed at the Romanian crown jewels exhibition in Houston in 1960.
  • The Bukhara Red is a 192 carat dark purplish-red tourmaline from Uzbekistan. It holds the record for the largest uncut red tourmaline in the world.
  • An extraordinary watermelon tourmaline was uncovered at California’s Tourmaline Queen mine in the 1890s. This unique crystallized carving displays a pink center, green rind, and water drops.

Exceptional tourmaline specimens like these are prized by gem aficionados and museums around the world. The best quality tourmalines can command extremely high prices at fine jewelry auctions.

Buying and Caring for Tourmaline

When shopping for tourmaline jewelry or gemstones, color is the most important factor determining quality and value. Vivid, saturated hues are most desirable. Green, red, and blue are the most valued tourmaline colors. Clarity is secondary, since nearly all tourmalines have some inclusions. However, excessive flaws or cracks will lower value.

Heat treatment can enhance tourmaline color, so untreated natural gems command higher prices. Some multicolored tourmalines are also assembled from two natural stones joined together. Single crystal tourmalines are more rare and expensive. Examine cut quality and carat weight as well. An exquisitely cut tourmaline will maximize the stone’s brilliance.

To care for tourmaline jewelry, avoid harsh chemicals and ultrasonic or steam cleaners. Use a soft brush and mild soap and water to remove lotions or dirt. Store tourmaline separately from other gems to prevent scratching. Avoid dramatic temperature changes and impacts that can cause fractures. With proper care, tourmaline jewelry will remain beautiful for many years.


With its spectacular spectrum of rainbow colors and history dating back centuries, tourmaline is the ideal birthstone for the month of October. Its blast of fall-like colors makes it perfect for the changing season. Red and green tourmaline honor October’s seasonal transition, while pink fits October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Tourmaline’s durability also makes it suitable for daily wear. Whether set into a ring, pendant, or bracelet, tourmaline birthstone jewelry will provide year-round delight for any October-born.