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The tourmaline family consists of at least 14 distinct minerals, but the variety elbaite accounts for nearly all gem-quality tourmaline. It was named as a result of the colored and colorless tourmalines found on the picturesque island of Elba off the western coast of Italy--history buffs know this island as the place where Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled in 1814. Although best known in shades of green and red, elbaite can also be blue, purple, yellow, or colorless. Notable varieties of elbaite include rubellite, green tourmaline, indicolite, watermelon tourmaline, Paraiba tourmaline and colorless.

Elbaite Polished
Elbaite Classification
Common Name Elbaite
Species Tourmaline
Elbaite Optical Properties
Transparency Transparent - Translucent
Dispersion Strength: Moderate Fire Value: 0.017
Refractive Index 1.614-1.666
Birefringence 0.018-0.020
Optic Character Uniaxial
Optic Sign Negative
Polariscope Reaction Doubly Refractive (DR)
Fluorescence SWUV: Inert
LWUV: Inert
Pleochroism Dichroic, moderate to strong, varying shades of body color
Elbaite Characteristic Physical Properties
Hardness 7-7.5
Streak White
Specific Gravity 2.900-3.100
Toughness Good
Inclusions Green elbaite tourmaline stones are type I clarity stones. Blue, purple, orange, yellow and bi-color or parti-colored elbaite tourmalines are type II clarity stones. Stones might contain liquid and gas inclusions that are long and thin, reflective gas-filled fractures and color zoning.
Luster Vitreous
Stability Very Good
Fracture Conchoidal, Subconchoidal, Uneven
Cleavage Poor, in two directions
Elbaite Chemistry & Crystallography
Chemical Name Complex boro-silicate of Al, Li and Na
Chemical Formula Na(Li1.5Al1.5)Al6(Si6O18)(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
Crystal System Trigonal
Chemistry Classification Silicate

Elbaite Colors

  • Yellow Elbaite Yellow
  • Yellow Elbaite Yellow
  • Red Elbaite Red
  • Multi-color Elbaite Multi-color
  • Bi-color Elbaite Bi-color
  • Blue Elbaite Blue
  • Brown Elbaite Brown
  • Colorless Elbaite Colorless
  • Green Elbaite Green
  • Orange Elbaite Orange
  • Pink Elbaite Pink
  • Purple Elbaite Purple

Countries of Origin

Afghanistan; Mozambique; Pakistan; United States of America (the); Unknown; Russian Federation (the); Brazil

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Tim Matthews


Tim Matthews

Tim Matthews is President and Chief Executive Officer of Jewelry Television® (JTV), as well as a member of the company's Board of Directors. He oversees and leads all aspects of the company's powerful omni-digital retail platform that uniquely specializes in fine jewelry and gemstones. His passion for business and gemstones has led him to become a recognized expert in the field of gemology. He is a life member of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A) and has earned Gem-A's highest degrees, the Gemmology (FGA) and Diamond (DGA) diplomas. He is also a Graduate Gemologist (GG) of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and has also completed GIA's Graduate Diplomas in Diamonds, Colored Stones and Pearls. Under his leadership, JTV has become the leader in the sourcing and selling of color gemstones and jewelry.

This page was created on June 27, 2014.

This page was last edited on October 24, 2019.