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Rio Doce Mine


14622 Hwy 226 S

Spruce Pine NC 28777

 

P.O. Box 296

Little Switzerland, NC 28749

 

828-765-2099

Fax: 765-2097

ejriodoce@att.net

 

Rio Doce Gem Mine is open everyday from Easter through Halloween.


The operating hours are from 9:00 A.M. until 6:00 P.M.

 

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Tourmaline

Tourmaline's name comes from the Sinhalese word "turmali," which means "mixed." Bright rainbow collections of gemstone varieties were called "turmali" parcels. Tourmaline, occurring in more colors and combinations of colors than any other gemstone variety, lives up to its name. There is a tourmaline that looks like almost any other gemstone! Many stones in the Russian Crown jewels from the 17th Century once thought to be rubies are actually tourmalines.

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lg tourmaline1

Perhaps this is why this gemstone is said to encourage artistic intuition: it has many faces and expresses every mood.

Tourmaline is also of interest to scientists because it changes its electrical charge when heated. It becomes a polarized crystalline magnet and can attract light objects. This property was noticed long ago before science could explain it: in the Netherlands, tourmalines were called "aschentrekkers" because they attracted ashes and could be used to clean pipes!

Tourmaline occurs in every color of the rainbow and combinations of two or three colors. Bicolor and tricolor tourmalines, with bands of colors are very popular. Sometimes the colors are at different ends of the crystal and sometimes there is one color in the heart of the crystal and another around the outside. One color combination, pink center with a green rind, is called "watermelon tourmaline" (seedless, of course!) Sometimes designers set slices of the crystal instead of faceted stones to show off this phenomenon.

Almost every color of tourmaline can be found in Brazil, especially in Minas Gerais and Bahia. Pink and green colors are particularly popular. In 1989, miners discovered tourmaline unlike any that had ever been seen before. The new type of tourmaline, which soon became known as Paraiba tourmaline, came in incredibly vivid blues and greens. The demand and excitement for this new material, which soon fetched more than $10,000 per carat, earned more respect for the other colors of tourmaline.

Tourmaline is a hard and durable gemstone which can withstand years of wear. You might want to avoid steam cleaning or heat.