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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History


Elbaite (NMNH G10524)
Photo by Ken Larsen. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH G10524-00
Locality Nigeria
Weight 26.48 ct

Gift of Ashley Foundation in 2007.

The tourmaline family consists of more than 14 distinct minerals, but only one, elbaite, accounts for nearly all of the tourmaline gemstones. Although best known in shades of green and red, elbaite also can be blue, purple, yellow or colorless. In the late 1990’s, copper-bearing blue tourmaline was found in Nigeria. The material was generally paler and less saturated than the much prized Brazilian “Paraiba” stones, but the Nigerian gems typically had fewer inclusions. This unusually large tourmaline gem exhibits a beautiful sea-blue color that is very rare and highly prized. The color, size, and source of this tourmaline make it a wonderful addition to the National Gem Collection.


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