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Elbaite (Tourmaline family)

The tourmaline family consists of 14 distinct minerals, but only one, elbaite, accounts for nearly all of the tourmaline gemstones. Tourmaline gems cover the complete range of the color spectrum. Moreover, single crystals of elbaite can show several colors, either along their lengths or from the inside out, making it possible to cut unique multicolored gems. Although best known in shades of green and red, elbaite also can be blue, purple, yellow, or colorless. Varieties of elbaite are sometimes referred to by names, such as rubellite (red-pink), indicolite (blue), and achroite (colorless). Today Brazil is the largest producer of gem tourmaline; other important sources include the U.S., Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Mozambique, Afghanistan, Tanzania, Russia and Nigeria. The elegant carving pictured here is from Mozambique and stands 5.3cm (2.1in) high.

Image Number: 96-30173
Catalog Number: G3689
Carving by O. Hansen; Gift of Mr. R. A. Graham III , 1961


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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Department of Mineral Sciences website Credits