It is one of the most beautiful gemstones on earth and the most powerful crystal, which is why it is in such high demand. But is that bracelet really made of genuine black tourmaline?
Due to its beauty and power, black tourmaline is in high demand, which means it’s also the most counterfeited stone. There is a possibility that the ‘black tourmaline’ bracelet you hold dear to you isn’t genuine.
So, whether you’re unsure about the stone’s true nature or looking for a good quality black tourmaline bracelet and looking for the best options on the market, you need to make sure that you are spending money on a genuine piece of black tourmaline bracelet.
In this article, we’ll guide you through what you should know about genuine tourmaline and how to identify the fake stones, or rather, to develop an understanding of what genuine black tourmaline stones look like.
But before we dive into that, let’s first look at some of the basics of black tourmaline.
What’s black tourmaline?
Also known as the gemstone of the rainbow, black tourmaline gets its name from the fact that this stone is one of the most stunning stones that is added to jewelry and oozes the most powerful metaphysical properties.
The base stone is the tourmaline, and rainbow tourmaline, like the other colored tourmalines, isn’t as popular. Black tourmaline is the most common type, which is why most people know about black tourmaline and not the other forms.
Since black tourmaline is the most common variation and looks almost like all other black crystals, it makes sense that you may end up with a black crystal that isn’t made of black tourmaline.
Note that black tourmaline is a borosilicate (contains boron and silicates) crystal with high iron content, hence its color.
In Germany, black tourmaline is called Schorl, named after a village in Saxony, Germany, where the gemstone was mined in 1400AD.
It’s a highly regarded crystal because of its incredible power to dispel negativity in life, getting rid of sadness, stress, depression, and anxiety.
In many ancient cultures, it was (and still is) used as a talisman whose protective powers guards against the evil energy that causes illness and misfortune, aka, the evil eye.
And if you spend too much time in front of your computer as we all do, this crystal will protect your thanks to its ability to absorb and block EMF waves that can be harmful.
With the basics out of the way, how do you identify genuine black tourmaline?
How to tell if black tourmaline jewelry is real
Since it’s often confused with black onyx and obsidian, here are some tests for black tourmaline identification.
1. Scratch Test
One of the easiest ways of identifying genuine black tourmaline is by scratching the small stone piece you may be unsure about. Scratch it using a steel knife.
Steel is softer than black tourmaline and is rated between 5 and 6 on the scale. So, if it scratches easily, it is not a real black tourmaline piece.
This is because black tourmaline is a relatively hard mineralized crystal that scores high on the Mohs scale of Hardness (7.0-7.5) and appears between topaz and quartz on the list. Given this high level of hardness, black tourmaline shouldn’t scratch easily.
Fake tourmaline feels soft or brittle, and you can scratch it with your stainless-steel knife.
2. Check the luster of the stone
It is worth noting that regardless of the mineral compositions of black tourmaline, all black tourmaline gemstones boast a glassy dark black sheen.
However, when you expose the semiprecious stone to bright artificial light, you will notice a reddish or brown shade. These shades come from the presence of hematite in the black tourmaline.
Under the bright light, you will also notice that the stone is rather vitreous. On the other hand, the fake stones don’t shine as brightly, don’t give off a dark brown or reddish hue under bright light, and don’t have a vitreous look.
Instead, the fake stones have a matte, somewhat metallic finish.
3. Structural Integrity
Due to its high rating on the Mohs scale of hardness, black tourmaline is naturally a durable mineral gemstone. However, it is not indestructible.
Black tourmaline will easily crumble and break apart when dropped or if you exert too much pressure on it. Why though? Primarily, schorl isn’t shatterproof because of the tectonic forces and events that bring the stone to life during and after its formation.
Often, the after-events that lead to its formation disintegrate the internal crystalline lattices. Any external force will affect these cleavage planes, fabrics, and the quality of the stone lattices. So, the stone will crumble under pressure.
When molten tourmaline solidifies too fast, the fractures present during formation are re-healed, but the fracture lines remain. So, undue pressure means that these weak lines inside the solid stone will be the source of weakness, contributing to the stone breaking under too much pressure.
That said, fake black tourmaline pieces tend to break and crumble, even under very low-pressure conditions.
4. Cleavage Planes
Raw, genuine black tourmaline crystals will always have cleavage planes. As mentioned above, these areas of weakness are present in the rocks during their formation.
When this gemstone breaks and cracks, the cracks form along the cleavage planes. This is the case for all natural and raw tourmaline pieces – the traces of the cleavage planes are visible under the naked eye.
The cleavage lines are unidirectional, and the crystal looks like it has thousands of little splinters. The pattern of the cleavage lines is random, unique, beautiful, and impossible to replicate.
So, if you come across raw tourmaline, but the lines look too perfect, the rock you’re looking at may be fake.
On the same note, the natural, genuine Schorl stones always have small fissures or cracks visible from the glassy surface of the stone. Remember that natural stone has a rough finish and is never 100% smooth before it’s processed.
5. Inclusions present
All genuine gemstones have inclusions, which are small mineral deposits in the gemstone, and contribute to the beauty of the stone. Often, inclusions enhance the beauty of the stone, and in the case of black tourmaline, mineral inclusions make it a stunning stone.
It has a high iron content, which is the reason for the dark black color and the brownish hue of the stone, or in other cases, the ‘string-like’ elements on the surface.
If you find brown dust on the tourmaline stone, it is a genuine piece, and the dust is oxidized iron.
To differentiate black tourmaline from other crystals, look at the following:
Cleavage pattern – black tourmaline’s cleavage is unidirectional, like burnt wood lines, while obsidian’s cleavage is narrow and sharp.
Brightness – black tourmaline is brighter than black onyx. It is also heavier than the black onyx.
Inclusions – Black tourmaline has reddish inclusions, while black onyx has white inclusions.
Black tourmaline is opaque, vitreous, dark black, chunky, and roundish. It’s rigid but not shatterproof, and it has visible cleavage planes.
It’s also magnetic and will be damaged when exposed to water for too long. So, keep these in mind when buying black tourmaline jewelry.
Tiger is a fashion&jewelry lover. He is also a fashion jewelry manufacturer that help thousands of small business to grow and also do business with some big fashion jewelry brands. He is a truly metal expert and he will share some information you are looking for.