How to tell if black tourmaline is real?
Tourmaline has been called the “gemstone of the rainbow” for a reason. It’s one of nature’s most beautiful creations, and it’s available in various colors.
Some multi-colored variations are understandably known as rainbow tourmaline.
Almost 90% of tourmaline is black, and none of its variations are very expensive. If naturally occurring tourmaline typically is black, other crystal colors can also be found: pink tourmaline, blue tourmaline, bright blue tourmaline or green tourmaline…
However, you may still want to test the authenticity of black tourmaline crystals because it looks similar to a handful of black gemstones and rocks.
How do you tell if black tourmaline is real? Well, there are a couple of testing methods, and we’ll explain each of them.
What Is Black Tourmaline, Exactly?
Tourmaline is a member of the borosilicate mineral family. The stone and a few other minerals, including quartz and feldspar, come from metamorphic rock formations.
Black tourmaline has a considerable iron concentration, which contributes to its unique color.
Some of its variations are translucent and reveal shades of brown and green.
Another name for the gemstone is Schorl, coming from a village in Saxony, Germany.
The name has been used, including some of its variations, since before 1400.
Black tourmaline is an essential stone in spiritual and crystal healing. It’s associated with psychic protection—the ability to shield your aura from negative energy.
It can also soak and repel negative feelings like anxiety, sadness, anger, etc.
Most tourmaline crystals can also be used for protection and grounding. They are known as talismans that guard against the energy that causes illness or misfortune in some people.
Wear black tourmaline if you spend too much time in front of a computer and other electronic devices.
It’s believed that the crystal can stave off any electromagnetic energy. By keeping it close, you also have clarity of mind and can quickly analyze a problem.
Like all other crystals, tourmaline is believed to have healing power for physical problems.
Crystal healers use it for alleviating joint pain, arthritis, physical aching, and bowel disorders.
The crystal is in the root chakra, which helps align all chakras. It’s also a lucky stone for Libra and Scorpio people.
How to Tell If Black Tourmaline Is Real: Top 6 Tips
You may wonder why anyone would want to produce fake black tourmaline. It’s a semi-precious stone, nothing valuable like jade stones or gold.
However, you need to use a genuine Schorl to get its full benefits as a crystal stone.
Also, it’s easy to confuse the gemstone with obsidian and black onyx.
So, you need to look closely at the stone to find its authenticity. Use the following test methods:
The luster doesn’t lie
Irrespective of the mineral formations, all tourmalines have a glassy sheen.
So, if you want to know whether you’re getting a genuine black tourmaline, check the luster.
It should have an intense black shine.
However, exposure to bright artificial light may reveal a brownish or reddish shade because of the hematite inclusions.
Light exposure also makes a real Schorl look vitreous. But a synthetic stone will not have the same level of sheen as a natural one.
It will instead exude a matte shine that looks kind of metallic.
How to Tell If Black Tourmaline Is Real: Check the hardness
One of the most prominent differentiating features between real black tourmaline vs fake is the gemstone’s hardness.
Tourmaline is a hard stone with a 7 to 7.5 rating on the Mohs hardness scale.
A stone with this rating (rigidity between quartz and topaz) is quite solid and rigid (remember that the hardness of natural diamonds is 10 on that scale).
So, you cannot easily scratch black tourmaline.
Rub the blade of a stainless steel knife a couple of times on the stone’s surface.
Since steel’s Mohs scale rating is between 5 and 6, it cannot scratch a genuine tourmaline.
You probably have an authentic stone if the rubbing scratches the knife or dulls its sharpness.
A fake tourmaline will have a softer texture or even be brittle. In most cases, you can scratch it with a stainless steel blade.
Check the structural integrity
Since tourmaline has a high rating on the Mohs scale, you may think it has super strong structural integrity.
However, genuine black tourmaline can easily break and crumble when dropped on the ground or under pressure.
Schorl can have a weak structure due to tectonic events during or after its formation.
The after-effects deteriorate the quality of foliations, fabrics and cleavage planes, making the gemstone vulnerable to pressure and impacts.
When such fractures damage the stone during its formation, the mineral again fills out those vacant spaces and “re-heals” the rock.
If this happens, the tourmaline will look perfect from the outside, but the fractured lines will remain inside.
So, the gemstone can break easily along these lines. A black tourmaline with a weak structure is a genuine but low-grade crystal.
How to Tell If Black Tourmaline Is Real: Look for cleavage planes on raw crystal
A crystal stone has some weak lines in its structure, known as cleavage planes, and they are formed at the weakest point of a mineral.
Minerals tend to break along the line of these planes.
An uncut piece of Schorl will show visible traces of cleavage planes. The unidirectional cleavage makes the crystal look like a mass of splintery wood.
It’s a surefire way to distinguish natural gemstones from fake ones because it’s impossible to replicate the feature in other materials.
Examine the surface of the gem
Uncut black tourmaline looks pretty rough, and the surface does not turn super smooth even after polishing.
Natural stones will have visible tiny cracks and fissures. The surface texture may also feel slightly uneven.
How to Tell If Black Tourmaline Is Real: Look for inclusions
Inclusions are actually minerals that get inside other minerals. Many gemstones have inclusions that genuinely enhance the beauty of some variations.
For example, real jade stones look more beautiful for having calcium veins and iron inclusions.
Black tourmaline also contains a high concentration of iron, which looks like tiny red patches or strings on the surface.
For the same reason, you may sometimes find powdered rust on the stone. It’s nothing but the chemical reaction between the iron elements and moisture.
How to Tell Black Tourmaline from Other Black Gems
A couple of other black gemstones look similar to black tourmaline. But don’t worry.
There are some straightforward methods to tell them apart.
The first difference between the stones lies in their sources: igneous and metamorphic rocks.
Obsidian is an igneous rock formed from the rapid cooling of volcanic magma.
You can also call it a natural black volcanic glass that contains aluminum, silicon, oxygen and a few more chemical elements.
On the other hand, tourmaline is formed in metamorphic rocks in the original sediment.
Black obsidian is a non-mineral stone with a smooth glass-like texture. It has a prominent vitreous shine like Schorl but a different cleavage pattern.
Schorl has unidirectional cleavage planes looking like thin grooved lines, similar to the patterns on a piece of burnt bark.
Obsidian’s cleavage planes are narrow and placed along sharp margins.
Breaking obsidian will reveal almost round conchoidal fractures, which look long and parallel in a broken black tourmaline.
Also, its white-colored inclusions contrast with black tourmaline’s red or brick-colored inclusions.
The primary difference between these stones is their luster. Pay a little attention, and you can immediately notice how different they look.
Take the cut and polished specimens of both stones; you will see that the tourmaline shines better and displays a more brilliant light reflection than black onyx.
Without polishing, it shows a sheen, which is not present in raw black tourmaline.
The weight of the stones presents another stark contrast. Black tourmaline has more water content and is slightly softer than onyx.
But the latter has a denser structure, so it’s much heavier than its look-a-like.
Take two same-size stones in your palm, and you can instantly feel the weight of onyx.
Due to the robust structure, onyx jewelry and crystals can handle daily wear and tear better.
Finally, you can differentiate them by looking at their inclusions. A high iron concentration makes black tourmaline’s inclusions red or brick-colored, whereas onyx’s inclusions appear white.
Unlike black tourmaline, jet is not even a mineral, but you cannot discern that difference without professional help.
Its dull texture in raw form gives it away, but polishing will increase its luster.
Jet gets formed from wood pieces getting coalified under the ground. For this reason, a microscopic examination will reveal tree cell walls inside it.
Also, the stone is super lightweight, so light that you will almost mistake it for plastic.
How to Care for Your Black Tourmaline
Do you have black tourmaline jewelry or ornaments? To get the most out of the crystal’s metaphysical, spiritual and other benefits, you must maintain it with care.
The stone is stable and does not react with chemicals. So, you can wear it during your daily work and household chores.
However, extended exposure to water and high heat can damage the stone.
Don’t soak your Schorl in water for over one or two minutes. Also, avoid using saltwater or rainwater for washing the stone.
Taking it too close to a high heat source will cause a color change and other surface-level damage.
Thermal shock (a sudden temperature change) can break the stone into pieces.
So, never clean it with a steam cleaner or ultrasonic device.
FAQs about How to Tell If Black Tourmaline Is Real
How can you tell if a tourmaline is real?
You need to check your tourmaline’s luster and color change under bright light.
Rubbing the surface with a steel blade is another way to test the genuineness, as genuine tourmaline won’t get scratched.
You can also check the structural integrity or look for inclusions.
How to Tell If Black Tourmaline Is Real: What does a genuine black tourmaline look like?
Black tourmaline has an opaque texture with a vitreous luster. The color is dark black, and no other shade is visible to the naked eye under regular light.
The most common black tourmaline shapes are short, chunky and roundish.
Is black tourmaline magnetic?
Yes. In fact, Schorl is the most magnetic among all allochromatic gemstones.
The unique property results from containing a high amount of iron and sometimes manganese.
Can tourmaline be fake?
Although tourmaline is not a precious gemstone, imitations are available on the market.
Also, there are a couple of crystals and gemstones, including jet, black onyx and obsidian, that look like black tourmaline.
Can black tourmaline go in the water?
Yes, but it should not be under running water for over one or two minutes.
Prolonged exposure to water, minerals like salt, and other chemical elements can damage the crystal and cause chipping and cracking.
So, don’t keep it soaked in water and avoid cleaning it with salt water or rainwater.