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Elbaite from Male, Mogok, Myanmar

Elbaite is a mineral species belonging to the tourmaline group. Elbaite forms three species with dravite and with schorl. Elbaite is the most well-known and valuable form of tourmaline, almost all of the tourmaline gemstones are of the elbaite variety. The mineral was named after the island of Elba, Italy, where it was first found in the deposits of San Piero in Campo and nearby Sant'Ilario in Campo in 1913. These deposits have produced very old historic Elbaites, especially the classic Moor's Head Tourmalines with black caps.

Elbaite is perhaps the most multicolored mineral, coming in virtually every color of the spectrum. Colors include green, red, pink and blue. White, colorless, black, brown, yellow, orange, and purple colors are less common. Many green and blue specimens are strongly pleochroic. When viewed through their vertical axis, such specimens appear darker in color than when seen through their horizontal axis. Certain elbaites exhibit a cat's eye effect when polished into cabochons.

Elbaite from San Piero in Campo, Elba Island, Italy
click to enlarge

Elbaite is form of tourmaline used as a gemstone. Its popularity has greatly increased since the 1990's, now it's one of the most prized minerals, and fine crystals can be among the most beautiful examples in the mineral kingdom. Elbaite crystals that are highly valued by collectors.

Elbaite is cut into all forms and styles for jewelry use but very often instead of being faceted extremely aesthetic slender crystals of elbaite are preserved for their beauty. Thick, elongated crystals are sometimes sliced into sections and sold as "Tourmaline cross sections."

Since elbaite was originally discovered in Italy, it has since been found in many parts of the world. An immensely popular yet rare neon blue elbaite came from the Paraiba Mine, Paraiba, Brazil and distinctly beautiful raspberry to ruby-red elbaite (rubellite) from the Jonas Mine, Minas Gerais, Brazil. The other very important localities include Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mynamar, Namibia, Mozambique, Nigeria. In the US, Southern California produces some of the most outstanding elbaites. On the East Coast of the US, in New England are some of the classic and famous tourmaline quarries. In 1994, a major locality was discovered in Canada, at O'Grady Lakes in the Yukon.

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