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Elbaite Carving

Photograph of a carved elbaite head (NMNH G3689) from the National Gem Collection
Photo by Chip Clark. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH G3689-00
Locality Mozambique
Weight 376.85 ct

Gift of Mr. R. A. Graham III in 1961.

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), achroite (colorless) and the highly prized Paraiba (neon blue). 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.


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