Paraiba is the rarest and most expensive variety of tourmaline. Some samples easily compete in value with large diamonds of the highest characteristics. Tourmaline Paraiba differs brightest color palette, changing from sky-blue and turquoise hues to light green saturated colors. Paraiba crystals are recognized as reference samples of neon-blue color in the market of precious stones. The presence of copper and manganese impurities in the minerals determines the unique color of these tourmalines. It should be noted that it is impossible to refer all tourmaline blue and blue to the sight of Paraiba. It is the presence of copper ions that is the main factor that allows to call blue tourmaline Paraiba tourmaline.
Brazil produces up to 80% of various types of tourmalines. This country has also become home to Paraiba’s unique tourmaline, named for the Brazilian state of Paraíba. It was in this state that the first copies of Paraiba were found in 1987. Unique sky-blue tourmalines were found by local prospector Heitor Dimas Barbosa, who spent several years searching for these minerals. The stones he had found so far of unprecedented color were instantly bought up by merchants, who spread the news about a new variety of tourmalines around the world.
Almost until the end of the twentieth century, everyone was convinced of the absolute uniqueness of the Brazilian deposit of this kind of tourmaline. At the end of 2001, experts were surprised to find on the jewelry market neon-blue tourmaline from Nigeria, found at the Eduka mine. An analysis of the chemical composition of the stones showed the presence of copper and manganese impurities, which determine the color tonality. African samples tend to be less saturation compared with the Brazilian Paraíba.
Further, in 2003, in Mozambique, in the Alto Ligonya region, analogues of Brazilian tourmalines were found at the mine in Muayane. These stones also contain copper, a little less manganese, as well as impurities of lead, beryllium, gallium and bismuth. Today, most of the copper-bearing tourmaline comes to the market from Mozambique. There are very few Brazilian stones on the market and, as a rule, they do not exceed 2-3 carats. It is important to note that the cost of Brazilian stones is several times higher than the cost of African ones. African stones can reach dozens of carats.
Despite the big difference in price, Paraiba tourmalines from Mozambique of high gem quality can be as good as the Brazilian reference stones. There is also an erroneous opinion that Paraiba from Mozambique cannot be called Paraiba unlike Brazilian, therefore it is important to note that blue African tourmalines containing copper ions are officially recognized by the world gemological community Paraiba tourmaline along with samples from Brazil. The expert conclusions of the most reputable global laboratories for stones, the blue color of which is due to copper, always indicate that this tourmaline is of the type “Tourmaline Paraiba”, regardless of the region of its origin.
Most Paraiba tourmaline passes through refining through heat treatment to achieve the best color gamut. The natural color of the Mozambican specimens usually has a palette of violet, pinkish, green and yellowish-green shades. After heat treatment, the primary colors disappear, and the crystals acquire a noble neon-blue color, the color change is stable and unchanged in the future. Brazilian specimens of Paraiba initially possess a sky-blue tonality. Refining removes purple hues and improves the saturation of the blue gamut. It is important to note that the heat treatment of Paraiba tourmaline crystals is a common practice, and due to the great rarity of this gem, the heat treatment of top samples practically does not affect the cost.
In Paraiba tourmalines of medium commercial quality with a large number of inclusions and cracks, different polymers are used to fill cracks, thereby improving the purity of the stone. Stones of this quality can often be cut into cabochons. Of course, heat treatment and artificial improvement of cleanliness significantly reduce the cost of stones. You should carefully examine the expert opinion on the acquired tourmaline, issued by the gemological laboratory.
Paraiba tourmalines from the Brazilian field are very rare lots in the global jewelry market, like Burmese rubies. It is the geographical origin here that is the main pricing factor. The stones supplied from Mozambique are of lower value than Brazil. High-quality Brazilian tourmaline may have a much smaller mass than the Mozambican, but have several times the price for 1 carat. The price of the most pure and high-quality Paraiba blue color is comparable to the price of good diamonds and reaches $20-30,000 per carat. The cost of Paraiba from Mozambique, depending on the purity and color saturation is in the range of $1,500-9,000 per carat.
In recent years, the cost of Paraiba tourmaline on the market is growing rapidly, sometimes by 20-30% per year. Paraiba often costs by carat unheated sapphires and Colombian emeralds, which puts these minerals in the highest price category. The price of tourmaline per carat often exceeds several tens of thousands of dollars. Today, this stone tops the list of the most investment-attractive gems.