Updated: Jul 18, 2021
There is a fascinating story behind the remarkably rare and exquisitely beautiful Paraiba Tourmaline. In the 1980's gemstone prospector and miner Heitor Dimas Barbosa had an unshakable conviction that something very special was hidden in the mountains of Paraiba, a state in the Northeast of Brazil, after a sighting in 1982. He began to dig with a small crew of men, with a vision of what he was looking for. 5 years after Barbosa's painstakingly slow exuviation he and his men stumbled across the first signs 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.
Paraiba Tourmaline is a copper bearing elbaite and it is the copper element interacting with the element of manganese that lends Paraiba Tourmaline its incandescent bright and saturated colours. Paraiba tourmaline ranges from vivid blue and green, to turquoise, through to neon blues and greens and electric blues and greens. A Paraiba tourmaline has its own Joie de vivre. It sparkles and glows from within. Colour and lustre is prized over clarity in a Paraiba tourmaline, and in the world of gemstones inclusions* often reduce the value, however it is widely accepted that inclusions are acceptable in Paraiba Tourmaline and can add to its beauty.
There are currently 3 active mines in Brazil; Mina da Batalha, Mulungu mine and Alto dos Quintos Mine. Up to 1 carat Paraiba tourmalines are the usual find in these mines. Anything larger is more unusual. To put into perspective just how elusive Paraiba Tourmaline are for every ten thousand diamonds mined in the world, one Paraiba tourmaline is mined. Superb quality Paraiba Tourmaline over 5 carats in weight is priced at $70,000 NZD (New Zealand dollars) per carat. That's $350,000 NZD for a 5 carat gemstone.
In year 2000 blue and green copper and manganese bearing tourmaline was found in Nigeria and then in 2005 in Mozambique. There has been animated debate at 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, only showing minute differences.
Even now in 2021 Paraiba Tourmaline is in high demand. The supply chain has seen a reduction due to the temporary closure of Paraiba mines in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many gemstone dealers and jewellers are unable to source or supply this fabulous gemstone, and prices for the few available on the market continue to increase. Paraiba is extremely popular in Japan and the United States of America, with many of the mined specimens ending up in these two countries. Paraiba is coveted by the major jewellery houses and you will find it being used regularly in their high end pieces.
When buying Paraiba Tourmaline it is important that documentation accompanies the gemstone. This is because Tourmaline can come in blue and green shades but if the copper and manganese elements are not present in the gemstone then the tourmaline cannot be classed as Paraiba. Ensure the gemstone you are purchasing comes with a comprehensive laboratory report from a reputable gem lab stating that it is 'Paraiba Tourmaline'. Please note that New Zealand gem labs do not have the equipment needed to test and verify Paraiba Tourmaline. The specific piece of equipment used for testing Paraiba costs around 2 million US dollars so many laboratory's are unable to conclusively verify that the gemstone being tested is Paraiba Tourmaline.
The Sapphire Merchant sold a spectacular 3.77ct Paraiba Tourmaline in March 2021 and as of writing this article has a beautiful 2.64ct Paraiba tourmaline available for purchase. We can also source other Paraiba Tourmaline options for interested buyers. Please enquire to discuss your options.
*An inclusion or inclusions are the natural markings within a gemstone.
2.84ct Paraiba Tourmaline
The Sapphire Merchant
3.77ct Tourmaline SOLD