HISTORY, NAME, LOCALITIES: Elbaite, pronounced ELL-buh-ite, has been known since antiquity, but was not recognized as a distinct mineral species until 1913. It is named for its type locality on the island of Elba, Italy. Elbaite is collected in Brazil, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Italy, Madagascar, Namibia, Sri Lanka, and the United States (Maine, California).
MINERALOGY, PROPERTIES, OCCURRENCE: Elbaite [basic sodium aluminum lithium borosilicate, Na(Al1.5,Li1.5)Al6(BO3)3(Si6O18)(OH)4], a member of the tourmaline group, crystallizes in the hexagonal system as short-to-long, striated prisms with hexagonal cross sections and flat terminations. It is transparent to translucent, has a vitreous luster, and is usually pink, reddish-pink, green, or blue-green. It has a substantial Mohs hardness of 7.0-7.5, no cleavage, a refractive index of 1.615-1.651, and a specific gravity of 2.9-3.2. Elbaite occurs primarily in lithium-rich, granite pegmatites.
METAPHYSICAL PROPERTIES, LORE, USES: Modern metaphysical practitioners believe that pink elbaite removes fear and negativity, calms the nerves, provides inspiration, and dispels grief; green elbaite is thought to promote compassion and emotional healing and help to connect with the Earth. Green elbaite is especially valuable in helping herbalists to understand the flow of energy between minerals and plants. Elbaite is a valuable and important gemstone. Transparent crystals with rich, pink, green, or blue-green colors are faceted into costly gems.
COLLECTORS’ INFORMATION: Because of its wide range of colors, excellent crystal development, and sometimes large crystal size, collectors value elbaite as individual crystals and as composite specimens in association with quartz and albite.