Paraiba Tourmaline: description, properties and photo
Paraiba is the most expensive and valuable variety of tourmaline. The best specimens in terms of cost can compete even with diamonds because of its rarity and beauty. This tourmaline got its name in honor of the brazilian Paraiba state where the first finds were made in 1988.
These beautiful tourmalines have attracted the attention of the public because of their unusual vivid colors. The palette of this gemstone lies in the “neon” tones of blue, greenish-blue, green, blue and violet-blue. The most expensive color is saturated blue without greenish or purple hue. The color of the stone is associated with the content of copper, which is responsible for the blue and green colors, and manganese is responsible for the violet shades, which reduce the cost, but can be eliminated by heat treatment. In addition to Brazil, Paraiba tourmalines have also been discovered in Nigeria and Mozambique. Most samples today are mined in Mozambique. In order for tourmaline to be considered a variety of Paraiba, a prerequisite is necessary – the presence of an impurity of copper in the composition. The gemological community has accepted that Paraiba tourmalines can be of any geographical origin, although before there was much debate about whether African copper-containing tourmalines are legitimate to refer to them. For some laboratories, it is also important that the stone must have a blue tint.
These fascinating neon-blue stones were first found in 1988 in the brazilian state of Paraiba, and later in the state of Rio Grande do Norte. However, today Brazil delivers a very small number of these tourmalines to the market, their places of extraction are almost exhausted. Since 2001 a small number of Paraiba tourmalines have come from Nigeria. Since 2005, Mozambique has become a major supplier to the global market. Paraiba from Mozambique after heat treatment often has a greenish tint and not as saturated color as from Brazil, and its cost is about 5-10 times lower. Paraiba tourmalines of Brazilian origin rarely exceed 2–3 carats in weight. Now they are extremely rare in the world market. It is a kind of established brand, just like a ruby from Burma or an emerald from Columbia.
XY3Al6(OHF)4[BO3]3[Si6O18], where X = Na, Ca, Li, and Y = Fe2 +, Mg, Mn, Al, G, V
Mohs scale hardness:
3.06 (+0.20, -0.06) g / cm3
blue, greenish blue, violet blue
The value of the best specimens of Brazilian origin today can reach 60,000 US dollars per 1 carat.
The GIA laboratory in its expert opinions reports on detected signs of heat treatment and filling, but never writes about the absence of traces of heat treatment.
Tourmalines mined in Afghanistan and Pakistan may be similar in color to Paraiba, but they do not contain copper.
The history of the discovery of Paraiba tourmaline is connected with the name of the brazilian geologist Heitor Dimas Barbosa. Neon-blue crystals were discovered by him in the area of the village of San Jose da Batalha in 1988 (Paraiba state, Brazil). The Heitor Dimas Barbosa dreamed of glorifying his homeland with some amazing and unusual mineral. He practically lived in mines and adits to fulfill his dream. His perseverance and fidelity to his dreams was truly rewarded with a royal gift. Paraiba tourmalines presented for the first time to the public made a splash at the international exhibition in Tucson (USA) in 1989. The cost of them rose from several hundred to two thousand US dollars per 1 carat for first four days of the exhibition. Today this variety is also mined in Africa, but the most beautiful and still significantly more expensive "electric" tourmalines are of Brazilian origin.
Almost all Paraiba tourmalines are heat treated to change their color. Initially, many copper-containing tourmalines from Mozambique look purple, pinkish, green, yellowish-green. And only after heating, a blue color appears in them, and pink and purple blooms are eliminated. Brazilian specimens are sometimes heat treated in order to improve the saturation of an existing color, and also to eliminate purple hues. In recent years, cases of filling cracks in them with various polymers have become more frequent in order to visually improve the clarity of the stone. The fact of heat treatment and filling can reduce the cost of the sample, so you need to pay attention to the mention of treatment in the expert opinion.
On the photo: a brooch-pendant with a unique Paraiba tourmaline weighing 13.65 carats. Gem Lovers
Paraiba tourmaline with saturated blue color from Brazil