Paraiba Tourmaline IS Redefining Blue
Neon. Fluorescent. Electric. Peacock. A new gemstone discovered in Brazil in 1989 left gem dealers searching for new adjectives to describe brilliant blue and green tourmalines that are more vivid than any ever seen before.
Tourmaline is the world’s most colorful gemstone but, until the Paraiba deposit was found, no tourmaline had ever shown the sizzling turquoises, electric blues, rich twilight blues, and neon greens of the new discovery in Paraiba, Brazil. In fact, this color hasn’t been seen with any consistency in any gemstone variety.
The spectacular colors are due to the presence of a small amount of copper. But a recent study by the German Foundation for Gemstone Research also discovered a surprisingly high gold content.
The average gold content of the earth’s crust is 0.007 parts per million. Paraiba tourmalines contain a remarkable 8.6 parts per million. If they weren’t so beautiful, they might be in danger of being crushed to salvage the gold!
Mining In Brazil
The tourmalines are mined near a village called Sao Jose de Batalha in the state of Paraiba, Brazil. The area produced tourmaline for almost ten years but the crystals were too fractured and broken to be cut into gemstones. Then the miners discovered a new vein of gem-quality stones with the extraordinarily bright shades of blue and green. The blues come in sizes up to eight carats and the greens up to twenty carats.
The tourmalines are found in a small hill near the village which is being mined laboriously by hand. The hand-excavated shafts and interconnected tunnels are up to 60 meters deep and tourmaline is found only in small pencil-thin veins. Because of the difficulty in mining, the supply will always be limited and the tourmalines will always be rare and expensive.
Dealers of Paraiba Tourmaline
Dealers all over the world – especially in Japan, the world’s largest importer of these gemstones – are competing for the new Paraiba tourmaline, which means that it can command retail prices over $20,000 per carat for the finest specimens. Although this is more than other colors of tourmaline, it is very little when you consider how rare these gemstones are. Diamonds are quite common in comparison.
Jewelry designers are experimenting with combining the new blue and green Paraiba tourmaline shades together in one piece of jewelry. The turquoise or green colors are also often combined with pink tourmaline for striking two-tone combinations.