Paraiba Tourmalines: the fascinating story of a rare gem
What makes Paraiba tourmalines unique?
Almost every shade of tourmaline can be found in Brazil, but none has the vivid glow that distinguishes the Paraiba tourmaline, also known as cuprian elbaite. A product of the trace element copper, colours range from startling turquoise to majestic blue-green, but it is the incandescent glow that appears to light up the stone from within that makes Paraiba tourmalines incomparable to any other gem.
How rare are Brazilian Paraiba tourmalines?
To put their rarity into perspective, there is only one Paraiba tourmaline mined for every 10,000 diamonds, and a good quality Paraiba from Brazil weighing over three carats is virtually unheard of. So rare are authentic Brazilian Paraiba tourmalines that it is not unusual for them to achieve five figures per carat.
African tourmalines with Paraiba-like qualities
In a surprising twist in the Paraiba tale, in 2003, a new wave of luminous green-blue tourmalines entered the market, mined by hand in the copper-rich mountains of Mozambique and Nigeria.
Compare the shape of the coastline of South America with that of Africa and it suggests that, once upon a time, the two were conjoined, with the copper-rich mountains of Brazil a whole lot closer - and quite possibly right next door - to the copper-rich mountains of Mozambique and Nigeria than they are today. It's impossible to prove, of course, but that simply adds to the allure of this incredible, one-of-a-kind gemstone.