The tourmaline family consists of more than 14 distinct minerals, but only one, elbaite, accounts for nearly all of the tourmaline gemstones. Although best known in shades of green and red, elbaite also can be blue, purple, yellow or colorless. In the late 1990’s, copper-containing blue tourmaline was found in Nigeria. The material was generally paler and less saturated than the much prized Brazilian “Paraiba” stones, but the Nigerian gems typically had fewer inclusions. This unusually large tourmaline gem exhibits a beautiful sea-blue color that is very rare and highly prized. This important stone was acquired through the generous donation of the Ashley Foundation in 2007. The color, size, and source of this tourmaline make it a wonderful addition to the National Gem Collection.
The tourmaline family consists of at least 14 distinct minerals, but only one, elbaite, accounts for nearly all of the tourmaline gemstones. Tourmaline gems form in a wide range of colors. Although best known in shades of green and red, elbaite can also be blue, purple, yellow, or colorless. Tourmaline can also show several colors in a single crystal, making it possible to cut unique multicolored gems. The suite of 55 tourmaline gemstones pictured here range in weight from 1.17 to 18.36 carats and exhibit a wide range of colors. These tourmaline gems spectacularly demonstrate the range of colors produced from a single mining region in Nigeria and greatly enhance the National Gem Collection.