One Liner Wednesday – Something to Ponder

Image by Wolfgang Eckert from Pixabay

What if there were no hypothetical questions?

One Liner Wednesday is brought to us each week by Linda Hill. Click over to her site to read the rules and enjoy reading the posts of others.

A to Z 2022, Blog

E Is For Elbaite – #atozchallenge

E is for Elbaite

Elbaite is a mineral of the tourmaline family. First discovered on the Italian island of Elba in 1913, it is well loved because of its rich color varieties. Elbaite is an accessory mineral found in igneous and metamorphic rocks, meaning it does not contribute as a primary mineral used in identifying the host mineral. A little confusing I know.

Elbaite is not a familiar name to most people, but tourmaline is more familiar. The tourmaline group of minerals contain 14 distinct minerals, but elbaite accounts for almost all of the gemstone material coming from tourmaline. Elbaite is an allochromatic gem, meaning it gets its colors from impurities, and without the presence of impurities, the gemstone would be clear. The stone is also pleochroic meaning the colors may change depending on the angle from which the gem is observed. Elbaite is a 7.5 on the Mohs scale which makes it a fairly hard stone.

Elbaite can produce gems in every color including:

  • achroite – colorless
  • rubellite – red or pink
  • indicolite – light blue to blue green
  • Paraiba – neon blue
  • verdelite – green
  • watermelon – multicolored

The price of a pink tourmaline comes in the range of $550 to $2600 for a 6×9 mm stone.

The first commercial gemstone mine in the United States was in Mount Mica, Maine. In 1820, two children discovered a large deposit of tourmaline. Two years later, the first commercial mine opened and thousands of carats of tourmaline were mined from that location. Click here to see an exquisite green tourmaline gem from Havey Quarry in Maine. (If you are interested, Havey Quarry has an Instagram with some stunning photos.) Check out this video to see just what these minerals look like when discovered.

The Smithsonian has a gorgeous golden yellow elbaite in their gem collection. It was mined in Kenya and cut into a 2.13 oval cut gem. You can see it here.

Elbaite is also prized as a mineral specimen which is easy to understand by this photo. The colors are beautiful and the the crystal structures are amazing. This particular specimen, with its pink and green crystals, was mined in Afghanistan and is held in the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.

Dicklyon, Elbaite at Peabody, CC BY-SA 4.0

While there are commercial applications for some of the tourmaline minerals, elbaite is used only as a gemstone or a mineral specimen.