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Discover Paraiba Tourmaline: A Complete Buyer's Guide for this Rare Gemstone.

Updated: Apr 27

What is Paraiba Tourmaline?

Paraiba Tourmaline, a gemstone that has captivated the world of gems since its unearthing in the 1980s, is a treasure cherished by gem collectors, jewellers, and jewellery enthusiasts alike. Its rarity and exclusivity make it a symbol of high-end luxury, and by delving into its unique characteristics, you are embarking on a journey of privileged knowledge. 

Tourmaline is a family of borosilicate minerals with the chemical name of complex boron silicate. Tourmaline grows in a trigonal crystal system and rates 7.0 - 7.50 on the Mohs hardness scale. Its lustre is vitreous, its specific gravity (SG) is 2.8 - 3.3, and its refractive index (RI) is 1.635- 1.675. What distinguishes Paraiba Tourmaline from other varieties is that it is copper-bearing elbaite. The trace element of copper elevates Paraiba Tourmaline to one of the most prestigious coloured gemstones on the planet. 

The Recent Discovery of Paraiba Tourmaline

There is a fascinating story behind the remarkably rare and exquisitely beautiful Paraiba Tourmaline. In 1980, gemstone prospector and miner Heitor Dimas Barbosa had an unshakable conviction that something extraordinary was hidden in the mountains of Paraiba, a state in the Northeast of Brazil, after a speculated find in 1982. He began to dig with a small crew of men, armed with determination and an unshakable gut feeling that there was a deposit of extraordinary gemstone to be discovered. 5 years after Barbosa's painstakingly slow excavation, he and his men stumbled across the first deposits of a truly magnificent gemstone. One can only imagine Barbosa's thoughts and feelings as he held the discovery of Paraiba Tourmaline in his hand. The year was 1989

“I always thought my intuition guided me to find the gemstones, but today it has been proven to me that gemstones actually called upon my intuition” ~ Heitor Dimas Barbosa

Barbosa Holding His Paraiba Tourmaline Discovery
The Hand of Heitor Dimas Barbosa Holding His Paraiba Tourmaline Discovery

What Colour is Paraiba Tourmaline?

Paraiba Tourmaline ranges from vivid electric blues through to turquoise neon greens. The blue and green hues are so exceptional that they fall out of the gamut, and the actual colour of these natural jewels cannot be reproduced in print. A Paraiba Tourmaline has its own Joie de vivre and is famed for its sensational visual appearance, fiery and lustrous, presenting an alluring play on light. It is the copper interacting with the element of manganese that gives Paraiba Tourmaline its incandescent and saturated colours, distinguishing it from the rest of the Tourmaline family.

Inclusions in Paraiba Tourmaline

When considering an investment in Paraiba Tourmaline, it's important to note that colour is highly valued over clarity. While inclusions typically diminish a gemstone's worth, they are accepted in Paraiba Tourmaline, much like in emerald, ruby, and sapphire. In fact, inclusions can enhance the gem's beauty by allowing light to play within the stone. As long as the gem is free of cracks that could compromise its structure, inclusions are considered acceptable, maintaining the high value of Paraiba Tourmaline.

Mozambique Paraiba Tourmaline with Light Inclusions
Mozambique Paraiba Tourmaline with Light Inclusions

Is Paraiba Tourmaline Heated?

It is widely accepted in the gem world that Paraiba Tourmaline undergoes heat treatment to clarify the gem and improve its colour. When gems and minerals form in the earth over millions of years, they are subject to high temperatures. So, in general, heat applied to precious gemstones is considered normal.

Prestigious gem labs such as GIA do not test for heat in Paraiba Tourmaline. They will only test for copper to establish whether the Tourmaline can be deemed Paraiba or not. 

Brazilian Paraiba Tourmaline VS African Paraiba Tourmaline

From its original discovery in 1989, Brazil was the only known source of Paraiba Tourmaline. There are currently three active mines in Brazil: Mina da Batalha, Mulungu Mine, and Alto dos Quintos Mine. These mines usually find up to 1 carat rough of Paraiba Tourmaline. Anything more significant is unusual and incredibly valuable. Brazil-origin Paraiba Tourmaline is worth a premium price; expect to pay triple the cost of a comparative Mozambique-origin Paraiba. This is because the colour of Brazilian Paraiba is more saturated and intense. 

In 2000, blue and green copper and manganese-bearing Tourmaline were found in Nigeria, then in 2005 in Mozambique. There was animated debate on whether the African continent sources of this Tourmaline should be allowed to bear the Paraiba name. However, it is generally accepted that Tourmaline from these sources can also be called Paraiba as the mineral makeup is almost identical, showing only minute differences with copper content. Mozambique currently has a reliable and steady supply of Paraiba Tourmaline coming onto the market; it is the largest source of this rare jewel. 

When investing in a Paraiba Tourmaline, is it best to choose a Brazilian-origin gem or an African-origin gem? Both origins produce equally beautiful Paraiba Tourmaline. The price point is going to be your most significant consideration. Brazil-origin Paraiba will cost more than three times the amount of an equivalent African-origin gemstone. There is also the perceived prestige of the Brazilian-origin Paraiba because it came first and remains in lesser supply than its African-origin counterpart. Overall, both options make an astute investment. To put into perspective just how rare Paraiba Tourmaline is, one is mined for every ten thousand diamonds worldwide

Heitor Dimas Barbosa the Man who Discovered Paraiba Tourmaline in 1989
Heitor Dimas Barbosa the Man who Discovered Paraiba Tourmaline in 1989

Why Documentation is Important When Buying Paraiba Tourmaline

When buying Paraiba Tourmaline, documentation must be included with the gemstone. Tourmaline can come in blue and green shades, but if the copper and manganese elements are not present in the gemstone, it cannot be classed as Paraiba Tourmaline. 

Additionally, Paraiba Tourmaline of Brazilian origin is more valuable than Paraiba Tourmaline of African origin, so it is essential to establish its origin. 

When venturing into the world of Paraiba Tourmaline, it is crucial to arm yourself with knowledge and caution. Ensure that the gemstone you purchase comes with a comprehensive laboratory report from a reputable gem lab, stating that it is indeed 'Paraiba Tourmaline'. This documentation protects against potential misrepresentation and ensures that you are investing in the real deal. Remember, not all gem labs have the equipment to test and verify Paraiba Tourmaline, so be vigilant when making your selection.

Custom Paraiba Tourmaline Jewellery Design

The Sapphire Merchant has designed some notable custom Paraiba Tourmaline jewellery pieces for our clientele, including Paraiba Tourmaline engagement rings. Paraiba Tourmaline is an acceptable engagement ring gemstone, but as it is softer, some care should be taken when wearing it day in and day out. Choosing a ring setting style that helps to protect the Paraiba Tourmaline is the best way to care for the gem in the long term. Here are two examples of our custom jewellery work with Paraiba Tourmaline.

Oval Cut Paraiba Tourmaline Engagement Ring
6.68ct Paraiba Tourmaline Engagement Ring

A Paraiba Tourmaline Engagement Ring

The first is a 6.68ct Paraiba Tourmaline engagement ring. Our client was pursuing a truly extraordinary ring for his beloved. The Sapphire Merchant sourced this sensational oval-cut Paraiba Tourmaline from Mozambique. We sent it to GIA Bangkok for comprehensive laboratory testing to ensure its copper content and authenticity. Upon the assurance of the GIA report, we began work on the CAD, designing an engagement ring that would protect the Paraiba Tourmaline and accentuate its colour and beauty. Drawing inspiration from nature's curves, we created a basket of diamond-encrusted leaves seamlessly flowing the gold and diamond work into a meandering crossover band. We incorporated one-hundred-and-seventy-four D-colour round brilliant diamonds in VVS clarity and set them into 18k yellow gold. The warm tone of the rich gold perfectly matched the warm tone of the green Paraiba Tourmaline, enriching the colour and accentuating its natural beauty. An extraordinary marvel of artistry combined with nature's treasure: Paraiba Tourmaline, diamonds and gold. Bring forth an engagement ring that symbolises our client's unique love story. 

2.76ct Paraiba Tourmaline Divorce Ring
2.76ct Paraiba Tourmaline Divorce Ring

A Paraiba Tourmaline Divorce Ring

The second is a 2.76ct Paraiba Tourmaline Divorce Ring. On trend, a divorce ring is the reclamation of the precious gemstones or gold from an engagement or wedding band, reimagined into something new. Our client wanted to celebrate her divorce, turning her now redundant wedding ring into a divorce ring that she could wear proudly and enjoy well into the next chapter of her life. Moving away from the traditional diamond in her engagement ring, The Sapphire Merchant sourced an oval cut 2.76ct Paraiba Tourmaline of Mozambique origin in a striking mint shade. We then reclaimed the 18k yellow gold from her engagement ring and wedding band by melting and refining them. Our client needed her new ring to be simple and functional because she was a mother of two young children. So, in collaboration with The Sapphire Merchant, we designed a chunky signet ring with a bezel-style setting to protect the rare Paraiba Tourmaline and ensure it was hardy to live knocks and bumps. The result is a simplistic yet striking custom ring, which fits perfectly with her life's circumstances!

The Sapphire Merchant Travels to Source to Handpick our Paraiba Tourmaline Gemstone Options:

Browse our luscious range of luxury Paraiba Tourmaline gemstones. Whatever you can dream of, The Sapphire Merchant can make for you. If you fall in love with one of our Paraiba Tourmaline options and are still determining a design idea, we collaborate to create something you will adore for many years. Contact The Sapphire Merchant today to start a journey that tells your story with an incredible custom jewellery piece.


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