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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History


Elbaite from Kenya
Photo by Ken Larsen. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH G11451-00
Locality BB1 Mine, Kenya
Weight 2.13 ct

Gift of Bridges Tsavorite in 2013.

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, brown, or colorless. Varieties of elbaite are sometimes referred to by names, such as rubellite (red), indicolite (blue), Paraiba (neon blue), and watermelon (pink surrounded by green). 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 2.13 carat oval-cut tourmaline from Kenya exhibits a beautiful golden yellow color and was gifted to the National Gem Collection in 2013 by Bridges Tsavorite.


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