Paraíba Tourmalines

24.04.2012 § Leave a comment

Only discovered in 89, Paraíba Tourmalines are stars among gems. Extremely sought after for their unique electric-blue color also referred to as neon blue, Paraíba Tourmalines haven’t stopped fascinating precious gem collectors since their very first appearance in the Batalha Mines of the Paraíba state of Brazil.

A fine Paraíba Tourmaline from Mozambique weighing approximately 7.58 carats

If their common name “Paraíba” tells us their origins, their gemological name “Cuprian Elbaite” Tourmalines reveals the element responsible for their color, namely copper. Today Cuprian Elbaite is mined in Brazil: Paraíba and Rio Grande do Norte ; but also in Mozambique and Nigeria. Cuprian Elbaite is found in several different colors depending on the presence of other chemical element. For example, high levels of manganese combined with low levels of copper will create an Intense Purple color. The reverse combination of high levels of copper and low levels of manganese is the reason for this beautiful and fascinating turquoise blue color known only to Paraíbas.

Lumina Earrings by Amsterdam Sauer in 18-kt white gold with Paraiba tourmalines and diamonds.

I find this set of earring by Amsterdam Sauer very beautiful because they show the range of hues in Paraíbas.  A fine Paraíba Tourmaline is referred to as “neon blue”, which means that its color must be deeply saturated with beautiful green-blue hues (the bluer the more valuable) and a strong “neon” glow. The most beautiful specimens of  Paraíba Tourmaline in color clarity and size are still found in the Batalha Mines where they were originally found.

Beware: It has been noted that imitations Paraíbas (non-copper-bearing blue and green tourmalines) are sometimes sold as genuine Paraíba Tourmalines. Also know that Cuprian Elbaite can be heated to reach turquoise blue colors. Therefore, make sure you buy Paraíbas in reputable places and as a general rule if you wish to purchase a gem of greater value, always let it certified in a serious gemological laboratory such as GIA. If the gem already has a certificate, verify its authenticity with the laboratory in question.

Images: Farlang and Amsterdam Sauer

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