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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History


Photograph of a group of faceted elbaites from the National Gem Collection displaying a range of colors from different localities.
Photo by Chip Clark. Click to zoom.
SpecimenCatalog NumberLocalityWeight
ElbaiteNMNH G9717-00Afghanistan71.05 ct
Elbaite (var. rubellite)NMNH G3411-00Minas Gerais, Brazil62.4 ct
ElbaiteNMNH G4197-00Minas Gerais, Brazil109.6 ct
Elbaite (var. rubellite)NMNH G8137-00Stewart Mine, California, United States100.4 ct
ElbaiteNMNH G1108-00Mt Mica, Maine, United States58.5 ct
Elbaite (var. rubellite)NMNH G3409-00Madagascar30 ct
ElbaiteNMNH G2097-00Minas Gerais, Brazil40.2 ct
ElbaiteNMNH G8980-00Nevel Gem Pit, Maine, United States48.77 ct
ElbaiteNMNH G5015-00Afghanistan46 ct
ElbaiteNMNH G9147-00Afghanistan31.85 ct
ElbaiteNMNH G3298-00Minas Gerais, Brazil25.5 ct
Elbaite (var. rubellite)NMNH G8455-00Tourmaline Queen Mine, California, United States37.83 ct
ElbaiteNMNH G9860-00Maine, United States30.4 ct
ElbaiteNMNH G9977-00Minas Gerais, Brazil34.6 ct
Elbaite (var. rubellite)NMNH G1109-00Mt Mica, Maine, United States18.4 ct
ElbaiteNMNH G9964-00Paraiba, Brazil6.69 ct
ElbaiteNMNH G9714-00Nevel Gem Pit, Maine, United States44.18 ct

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 multi-colored gems. Although tourmaline is best known in shades of green and red/pink, it can also be blue, purple, yellow, brown, and colorless. Varieties of elbaite are sometimes referred to by names, such as rubellite (red), indicolite (blue), and achroite (colorless), as well as the rare and 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 17 tourmalines pictured here are from Brazil, Madagascar, Afghanistan and the U.S.


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