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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History


Elbaite (NMNH G10579-00) from the National Gem Collection.
Photo by Ken Larsen. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH G10579-00
Locality Zambia
Weight 5.71 ct

Gift of Mr. Edward W. Boehm in 2008.

Elbaite is a colorful member of the tourmaline group of minerals. The name tourmaline comes from the Sinhalese word “turmali,” which applied to different gemstones found in Sri Lanka. Tourmaline gems cover the complete range of the color spectrum, but in exquisite shades unlike those of any other gem material. Although tourmaline is best known in shades of green and red or pink, it can also be blue, purple, yellow, brown, and colorless. Tourmaline comes in many color-specific varieties, including indicolite (blue), rubellite (red), paraiba (neon blue), watermelon (pink surrounded by green), bi-colored (two colors in one crystal), and multi-colored (three or more colors in one crystal). Today Brazil is the largest producer of gem tourmaline; other important sources include Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Mozambique, Afghanistan, Tanzania, Russia, Malawi, Nigeria, Namibia, Zambia, the U.S. and elsewhere. This 5.71ct triangular-cut tourmaline has a unique slightly greenish-yellow color that is due to the presence of manganese. This vibrant gem comes from the Canary mining area in the Lundazi District of eastern Zambia, the most important source of yellow gem elbaite. Mined since the early 1980s, it is typically found in sizes under 1ct.


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