Does Paraiba Tourmaline Only Comes In
Today we are talking about the Paraiba Tourmalines which are one of the rarest gemstones ever discovered on the Mother Earth. These splendid gemstones are the great combination of rarity and unique beauty.
History behind Paraiba Tourmalines
Tourmalines can be found in almost every shade of the rainbow but none of the colors can beat up the vivid glow of Paraiba Tourmaline from Brazil. These magnificent stones were first discovered near a village Sao Jose da Batalha, Paraiba- A Brazilian State in the year 1989.
A map showing Paraiba State of Brazil where beautiful Paraiban Tourmalines were first found. Picture Courtesy- Wiki Pictures.
Heitor Dimas Barbosa and his team began excavations in the year 1981 and it took them five and half years to find the galleries, tunnels and shafts that distinguish areas laden with gemstones. It took several more years to find Tourmalines in shades and hues that World has never seen before. The man behind these sparkling stones Barbosa was recovering from illness when these first handfuls of gems were brought to daylight. Thus, Paraiba Tourmaline is a recent discovery and a pop sensation of the Tourmaline family.
Discoverer of Paraiba Tourmalines- Heitor Dimas Barbosa. Picture Courtesy- Rocks & Co.
A look to the Tourmaline Family
The word Tourmaline has been derived from Sinhalese word “turmali” which in English means “stone with mix colors or mixed parcel”. Similar to Garnet, Tourmaline is also not made up of a single mineral but it is formed by a group of closely related silicate minerals. It is classified as a semi-precious gemstone with a wide variety of colors. The Tourmaline mineral group is chemically the most complicated groups of silicate minerals. This gem is 7-7.5 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness.
Copper makes Paraiba different
Gemstone Tourmaline comes in almost every color of the Rainbow. Brazil has classical reserves of Tourmalines. Generally iron, manganese, chrome and vanadium elements are responsible for the various coloring of Tourmalines. But Paraibas are different. Gemologists found that reason behind the vivid color of Paraiba Tourmalines is due to presence of copper in it. Later, it was found that these gems contain some amount of manganese also.
The interaction between iron and manganese give rises to the beautiful range of colors like greenish-blue, bluish-green, emerald green, sapphire blue, bluish-violet and purple. The post lustrous colors were often narrated as “Neon” since they appeared to glow.
Higher proportion of cooper is responsible for the colors like blue, turquoise and green hues. Apparently, presence of manganese causes violet and red tones. To eliminate any red hues Heat Treatments are given to Paraiba Tourmaline which brighten up the sparkling color even more.
Colors of Paraiba Tourmalines
1. Bluish-green color: The blue color of Tourmaline occurred due to the presence of copper into it. Color intensities ranges from pale blue to dark blue. The presence of manganese can modify the blue color into bluish-green color which can lead to pink or red zoining.
2. Blue color: This color is also known as Tanzanite Blue. These deep dark blue Tourmalines exactly look like to color of Tanzanite.
3. Violet and Purple color: The pink color of manganese and blue color of copper resulted into violet and purple. Manganese presence in high concentration in turns violet and purple colored Paraiba Tourmalines.
4. Green color: Green Paraiba Tourmalines has high concentration of manganese then copper. Green color may be due to combination of yellow from manganese and blue color from copper.
5. Red and Pink color: The pink and red colored Tourmalines are not classified as Paraibas as they contain only slight amount of copper as compared to green and blue Paraibas. Any significant copper concentration would shift red and pink Tourmaline towards violet and purple colored Paraibas.
Controversy with Paraiba Gems
It is rightly said by someone “with the great name controversies come along”. This happens with Paraiba Tourmalines also. In the year 2001, the sparkling blue-green Tourmalines from Nigeria (Africa) hit the gemstone market. These were look like the ones which had till now comes only from Paraiba. There was a slight difference in color saturation which can be hardly noticeable by layman.
Another twist to the story comes in the year 2005 when variety of colors as Brazilian Paraibas was found in Mozambique. The color of Mozambique was much similar to Brazilian Paraibas. Even, Mozambique ones are cleaner and found in bigger sizes than the Brazilian ones.
Attributes of Paraiban Tourmalines:
1. Rarity: One Paraiba Tourmaline is mined for every 10,000 diamond. Moreover, depletion of fine-quality reserves in Brazil makes these gems super rare.
2. Sky-high prices: Rarity directly influences the prices of Paraiba Tourmalines. Brazilian Paraibas cannot be founded in larger sizes. The fine quality stones under 2carat can range from 3500$to 15000$ per carat. The rare stone above 2 carat can yield prices upto 18000$ per carat or even more.
3. Fewer Locations: The stone is only known to exist in three locations on Earth.
4. Brilliance of the gem: These gemstones are extremely brilliant and sparkling in their unique colors even under the poor light conditions.
The answer to the question raised in the title of the article is “Yes”. Paraiba Tourmalines can be found in violet tanzanite color also. As explained under the heading “Colors of Paraiba Tourmalines”. After the discovery of African and Mozambique Tourmalines, a long series of debate held between the industry experts whether stones from Africa and Mozambique should fall in the same category as Brazilian Paraibas. As Paraiba is a name of the state of Brazil.
All these debate comes to end when GIA release a statement saying that- any gems with similar colors as those of Paraiba and presence of copper content in them will be referred as Paraiba Tourmaline irrespective of their place of origin. Now, copper-bearing Tourmalines from Brazil, Nigeria and Mozambique and any future copper –bearing deposits are referred to Paraiba Tourmalines.