Paraiba tourmaline is a small stone that is considered to be both rare and precious. These gems are found in the Federal Brazilian State of Paraiba and are found in turquoise to green colors that are unmatched by any other stone found in the world. These legendary stones are real treasures to the people who own them.
Paraiba tourmaline has a unique vividness that is extraordinary, in colors of green and blue, however different than green tourmaline in clarity and transparency. It was only discovered in the 1980s by a man named Heitor Dimas Barbosa. Barbosa spent many years digging in the pegmatite galleries in the modest hills of Paraiba. He spent all of these years digging because he was absolutely convinced that he was going to find something that was new and different. It took him over five years of digging to find the rare tourmaline.
The tourmaline is in the trigonal crystal family and is long, slender to thick prismatic and columnar in its original state. It is distinguished by a prism which is three sided and is the only stone known to man that comes with only three sides.
The classic country of tourmalines is Brazil, and at one time this gemstone came in various colors until the classic turquoise color was discovered by Barbosa. The splendid turquoise color is a result of the copper content, which is an element that has never before been found in a natural stone. Scientists have also discovered that the stone will often contain manganese. High proportions of copper are responsible for the very coveted radiant turquoise and green hues and the violet and red tones come from those stones that contain manganese. Laboratories have discovered a burning technique that removes manganese and leaves the copper concentration to produce a pure, vivid color stone.
The vivid color of the Paraiba tourmaline is not present until the stone has been cut. Once cut and faceted they reveal an unusual glow that is often described as fire. The stones are a product of nature that is both fresh and high spirited and will positively flash with radiance. It does not require an expert to discern these qualities.
In a very short time the popularity of the Paraiba tourmaline became known across the world. The prices of the gemstone continue to rise, as does the demand. The stones are usually small but rarely a large one is found. These are extremely coveted and expensive. There are actually very few gem merchants in the world that carry this precious stone in their inventory.
It is often customary to use a treatment on tourmaline stones to alter or improve their color. This is especially true for the gems that are pink to red in color. The treatment is called irradiation and is practically impossible to detect. This type of treatment does not affect the final value of the stone. If the stones are enhanced to improve clarity, this must be revealed to the buyer before purchase. Once a stone has been enhanced in clarity it is worth a lot less money than one that is naturally non-treated.
The Paraiba tourmaline made its debut appearance in the gemstone world at an annual Tucson, Arizona gem show in the early 1990s. The stone was an immediate hit with some of the best specimens selling for as much as $3,000 a carat. At the time this price was thought to be very high, but by today’s standards that is a relatively low price. The market demand remains strong and the supply of the stone is limited. This drives up the value of the stone immensely. The popularity of the stone has laboratories working furiously to come up with ways to enhance the clarity and still remain acceptable within the gemstone community.
Copyright 2008 Paraiba International