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Article: Escape with Dreamy Paraíba Tourmaline

pairaba tourmaline history blog

Escape with Dreamy Paraíba Tourmaline

pero paraiba tourmaline earrings

Do you fancy an escape to turquoise tropical waters or watching the sun create glittering greeny blue waves?  Then, this is the gemstone for you. 

Egyptian mythology says  tourmaline passed through a rainbow on its way to Earth resulting in a rainbow of colours, often within the same gemstone unlike no other.

Say hello to the baby of the tourmaline family, 'Paraíba Tourmaline', which was only debued in the jewellery world in 1989.  It immediately stands out from the crowd due to its exquisite colour. Ranging from the dreamy pastel blues and greens to the famous and eyewateringly expensive flawless neon blues and greens, it is unsurpassed in saturation and clarity. 


Oceanic hues, durable enough for everyday wear..
paraiba tourmaline colours


Paraíba tourmaline is formed in pegmatite rocks, which are known for their large crystal formations. It is a durable gemstone, coming in at 7-7.5/10 on the Moh's hardness scale, tough enough for everyday wear. 

The unique color of Paraíba tourmaline is attributed to the presence of copper and manganese in its crystal structure. These trace elements create the vibrant hues that make Paraíba tourmaline so sought after. While flawless Paraíba is stunning, visible copper inclusions in Paraíba create sparkle like no other, nature's glitter. 

The tale of discovery of Paraíba is romance itself...

This unique tourmaline was discovered very recently in the late 1980's by Heitor Dimas Barbosa and his team digging in the Paraíba Hills in Brazil. Armed with an unshakeable belief there was something valuable beneath the hills, after five years of struggle they unearthed stunning tourmaline crystals in a fabulous clear turquoise never before seen. 

The discovery of the Paraíba tourmalines led to frantic mining activity on Paraiba Hill, which was intitally was a tiny 400 meters long. Subsequently it was expanded and a lot of tourmaline deposits were found by miners all though in a very limited location. Slowly and after many disputed legal fights over provenance, the mines still produce their famed gemstone but at a much slower rate. 

paraiba touramline mines brazil

So did that mean the end of the Paraíba tale? Surprisingly not. At the beginning of 2001, a discovery of a bright turquoise stone was reported - this time, in Nigeria and it was found to be idenical to the tourmaline discovered in Brazil. You can see from the map above, how a geographically much earlier Brazil would have butted into Nigeria, then breaking away leaving similiar rock formations behind. Since then apart from Nigeria,  Paraíba has also been discovered in Mozambique, a hotbed of gorgeous gemstone deposits. Lately, newer lots of the precious stone have also been discovered in other areas of Brazil and eastern Africa.

But is all Paraíba the same?
paraiba gemstones hong kong jewellery show

To the naked eye, African and Brazilian Paraiba tourmalines are indistinguishable, and even under a microscope it is hard to tell the difference. The Gemmological Institute of America, which grades and evaluates gemstones of all kinds, states: “Nigerian and Mozambique tourmalines, which show saturated blue-to-green colours, cannot be distinguished from the Brazilian material by standard gemmological testing.” Only quantitative chemical testing, it says, will show up differences in the stones. 

Pictured are the darlings of the Hong Kong Jewellery show featuring neon blue and green stones. The Brazilian stones are still the rarest and most vibrant stones that are available in the market today and carry the greatest value.

The birthstone for October..

Paraiba tourmaline is the birthstone for those born in October. Tourmalines are known to inspire and promote happiness, reduce fear as well as build confidence among those who wear them. The properties and energies of tourmalines vary according to the color it comes in. The blue stone is known to have metaphysical properties such as the feeling of power and justice and clarity of mind. Typically, gemstones in the color blue represent stability, stillness, and calmness. It is an ideal gem for inspiration and absorbing negative energy.

Vermilion uses Paraíba not for the crystal clarity of the outrageously priced neon stones but for the more interesting pastel cuts. These feature loads of inclusions which create extra sparkle in addition to the facets. The inclusions are not flaws weakening the stones but enhance the sparkle due to copper reflecting the light. The result is a more interesting and saturated painterly effect.

The use of the whole gemstone rather than just discarding the flawed parts, is a valuable story in increasing the availability of interesting and unique stones and providing a more sustainable income for those rather being reliant on a once in a blue moon find. 


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