Paraiba Tourmaline Gemstone Information


Paraiba Tourmaline

 
In 1989, Brazilian miners discovered a unique and brightly colored variety of tourmaline in the state of Paraiba. The new type of tourmaline, which soon became known as Paraiba tourmaline, came in unusually vivid blues and greens. The gemstone world was captivated from the very beginning by the beauty and neon glow of the Paraiba tourmalines. In no time at all they achieved great popularity, and today they are among the most sought-after and most expensive gemstones in the world. Prices for loose Paraiba tourmaline gems continue to climb, and have already reached a level which, earlier on, would not have seemed realistic for a tourmaline. Five-figure prices per carat are by no means exceptional for fine, large Paraiba Tourmaline gemstones.
 
Within a very short time, the market absorbed the modest supply of Paraiba tourmaline from Brazil, but similar material was later found in Mozambique.  The paraiba colors were often described as "neon" since they appeared to glow.  It was determined that the element copper was important in the coloration of the stone, resulting in the description of this variety as Cuprian or copper-bearing. 

A recent African discovery from Mozambique has produced beautiful tourmaline colored by copper.  This new source produces material which is virtually indistinguishable from Paraiba Tourmaline from Brazil.  Paraiba Tourmaline gemstones from Mozambique is often less included and found in larger sizes than the Brazilian variety.

 
Why Buy Loose Gemstones Instead of Pre-Set Jewelry?
 
There are many reasons, but mainly it comes down to value and choice...

When buying your Paraiba tourmaline gemstone loose instead of a pre-set stone, you can be sure that you are getting the best value for your money.  Loose gemstones are less expensive, a better value, and you can really see what you are paying for.  The most important part of getting the right price and finding the best value is to first see what you're getting.  A jewelry setting will hide the inclusions inside a gem, and can deepen or brighten its color.  With a loose stone you can much more easily inspect the gem and see it for what it really is.  In this way you can get a better idea of its true worth and be sure you are paying a fair price.

The second advantage of buying a loose gemstone is choice.  You are free to pick the exact color, cut, shape and variety of the stone for the setting of your dreams, be it yellow gold, white gold, platinum or silver; prong set or bezel set with diamond accents.  You can experience the joy of creating your very own, one-of-a-kind jewelry design. Choose from a variety of jewelry settings and styles to create a completely original presentation that will perfectly suit your individual gemstone and will be as unique as you are!
  

Paraiba Tourmaline jewelry                        Paraiba Tourmaline Ring

Attributes

Origin Afghanistan, Brazil, East Africa, Nigeria, Mozambique, Madagascar, U.S.A.
Color
Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, Bluish Green, Blue-Green, Intense Blues and Greens, Neon Blue, Neon Green, Electric Blue and Electric Green.
Refractive Index 1.624(+.005, -.005) - 1.644(+.006, -.006)
Chemical Composition (NaCa)(LI,MgFe,Al)9B3Si6(O,OH)31
Hardness 7 - 7.5
Density 3.06 (.05, +.15)
Crystal Structure Trigonal
Anniversary 8th year

Paraiba tourmaline gemstones are excellently suited for wearing and are uncomplicated to care for, since all green tourmalines have a hardness of 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs’ scale.  Its lustre is vitreous, it ranges from transparent to opaque, and is doubly refractive to a high degree. Its cleavage is perfect on the basal plane, breaking with uneven fractures.  Tourmaline has a specific gravity of 3.06, a refractive index of 1.624 - 1.644, and birefringence of 0.020.

The refractive index (RI), measured using a refractometer, is an indication of the amount light rays are bent by a mineral. Birefringence is the difference between the minimum and maximum RI. When birefringence is high, light rays reflect off different parts of the back of a stone causing an apparent doubling of the back facets when viewed through the front facet.

Most gems have a crystalline structure. Crystals have planes of symmetry and are divided into seven symmetry systems. The number of axes, their length, and their angle to each other determine the system to which a crystal belongs. Tourmaline belongs to the trigonal crystal system and occurs as long, slender to thick prismatic and columnar crystals that are usually triangular in cross-section. Interestingly, the style of termination at the ends of crystals is asymmetrical, called hemimorphism. Small slender prismatic crystals are common in a fine-grained granite called aplite, often forming radial daisy-like patterns. Tourmaline is distinguished by its three-sided prisms; no other common mineral has three sides. Prisms faces often have heavy vertical striations that produce a rounded triangular effect. Tourmaline is rarely perfectly euhedral. An exception was the fine dravite tourmalines of Yinnietharra, in western Australia. The deposit was discovered in the 1970s, but is now exhausted.

Tourmaline has another feature that attracted the attention of scientists since ancient times.  The philosopher Theophrastus wrote 23 centuries ago that "lyngourion", probably the mineral tourmaline, had the property of attracting straws and bits of wood. This effect, called pyroelectricity, occurs when the crystal is heated, causing it to yield a positive charge at one end of the crystal and a negative charge at the other and attract light weight substances.  This is why tourmaline was called “asshentrekers” or ash drawers by the Dutch during the eighteenth century.  An electrical charge can also be induced in some tourmaline crystals simply by applying pressure to the crystal in the direction of the vertical crystal axis.This effect is known as piezoelectricity, and found many uses in pressure measuring equipment and other scientific applications: Tourmaline was used in the production of pressure sensitive gauges for submarine instrumentation as well as other war equipment.  The pressure gauges that measured the power of the first atomic bomb blasts were made with slices of this gem.

Almost all gem tourmaline is of the Elbaite variety. Elbaite also contains the appealing multicolored crystals. Fine crystals are very expensive, as they make beautiful specimens. They are one of the most prized minerals to a collector.  The varieties Schorl and Dravite are usually opaque and have little gem value. Both are common and not particularly interesting. In the past, mourning jewelry was carved out of black Schorl.  The other forms of tourmaline (Liddicoatite, Uvite, Chromdravite, and Buergerite), are very rare and are only appreciated by serious mineral collectors.


Color            

Tourmaline is a gemstone noted for the large and unsurpassed range of colors in which it occurs, and Paraiba tourmalines are precious stones displaying a uniqueness and splendor of those colors. Even among Paraiba tourmalines there is a broad spectrum of color. Some of them are very light, others are so dark that the hue can only be recognized when the stone is held against the light.

According to an ancient Egyptian legend, tourmaline's variety of colors is the result of the fact that on the long way from the Earth’s heart up towards the sun, tourmaline gems traveled along a rainbow and on its way it collected all the colors of the rainbow. This is why nowadays tourmaline is called the "Rainbow gemstone”. The word "rainbow" is used figuratively to describe tourmaline stones. In reality, it is a well recognized fact that tourmaline's diversity in color is not limited to the seven colors of the rainbow. Loose Tourmaline can be colorless to just about any color, hue, or tone known to man, even individual crystals of tourmaline can vary in color along their length or in cross-section. The variations in color along a crystal's length give rise to the bi-color and tri-color green tourmalines. The variation in color in cross section can be concentric, as in the case of watermelon tourmaline, a pink tourmaline core surrounded by a green rind. In fact, tourmaline crystals showing one fancy color only are quite rare. Generally one and the same crystal displays several shades and colors.

Not only a wide range of colors characterizes this gemstone, Paraiba tourmaline also shows a remarkable dichroism. Depending on the angle of view of a Paraiba tourmaline gemstone, the color will be different or at least show different intensity. The deepest color always appears along the main axis, a fact that the cutter of Paraiba tourmaline has to keep in mind when cutting a Paraiba tourmaline stone.

Tourmaline is seperated into several varieties, based on color:

Elbaite - green variety of tourmaline (may also refer to multicolored tourmaline)
Rubellite - pink to red variety of tourmaline
Indicolite or Indigolite - light to dark blue variety of tourmaline
Dravite - brown variety of tourmaline
Achroite - colorless variety of tourmaline
Schorl - black variety of tourmaline
Watermelon tourmaline - tourmaline with a red center, surrounded by a green layer (or vice versa)
Verdelite - name used to describe green tourmaline
Siberite - purple variety of tourmaline
Paraiba tourmaline - neon-blue or green variety of tourmaline, colored by copper
 
Cut
  
Tourmaline is found in elongated crystals that are most economically cut in the long rectangular shape, but Paraiba tourmaline is also commonly found as cushions, ovals, rounds, emerald cuts, and occasionally trillion or other fancy shapes (including pears, briolettes, hearts and marquises. Fine Paraiba tourmaline crystals that command the highest prices per carat are usually cut into more conservative emerald cuts, ovals, and cushions.

Pink and green tourmaline gemstones from certain localities contain tiny, parallel tubular inclusions, causing them to display a strong cat's eye effect when polished.  Cat's eye tourmalines are cut into the cabochon shape in order to develop and properly display the cat's eye effect.

Treatments

Some tourmaline gems, especially pink to red colored stones, are altered by irradiation to improve their color. Irradiation is almost impossible to detect in tourmalines and will negatively impact there value. Heavily-included tourmalines, such as rubellite and Brazilian paraiba are sometimes clarity enhanced. A clarity-enhanced tourmaline (especially paraiba) is worth much less than a non-treated gem.

Heat treatment can enhance the color of some tourmalines. Some dark greenish stones can be made deep emerald green, some brownish-red stones can be made red or pink and some light pink tourmaline gemstones can be made colorless through heating. The color of many darker stones can be lightened.
 
AJS Gems fully discloses any and all treatments to our gemstones.


Sources
 
Tourmaline was first introduced into Europe from India in 1703, and its name is adapted from "tura mali", its Sinhalese name. Tourmaline is a widely distributed mineral, and its transparent colored varieties, used as gem stones, have attained a considerable popularity. The vogue of the tourmaline has increased since it was discovered in 1820 on Mount Mica near Paris, Maine. The tourmaline has also been found in Massachusetts, California, and New York State. Its principal sources are Ceylon, Burma, Brazil, and the Ural Mountains, Siberia; it is also found in Moravia, Sweden, and the Isle of Elba. Tourmaline occurs in granite, particularly the albitic varieties, schists, and dolomite.

Tourmaline gems have been found throughout history in Africa, the Ural Mountains and other European locations, but some of the most exciting finds have been established in North and South America.


Brazil


Some of the finest Tourmaline in the world is found in igneous rock pegmatite dikes and alluvial deposits or cascalho, located in the area around Virgem da Lapa in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Rivers have washed through these deposits scattering stones throughout this region. Some of the mines that have produced the greatest specimens of gem crystal tourmaline and aquamarine are the primary deposits of Araua, Corrego do Urucum, Cruzeiro, Golconda, Jonas, Limoeiro, Medina, Pedra Azul and Xanda.

Almost every color of tourmaline can be found in Brazil, especially in the Brazilian states of Minas Gerais and Bahia. In 1989, miners discovered a unique and brightly colored variety of tourmaline in the state of Paraiba. The new type of tourmaline, which soon became known as paraiba tourmaline, came in unusually vivid blues and greens. These colors were often described as "neon" since they appeared to glow. Brazilian paraiba tourmaline is usually heavily included. Much of the paraiba tourmaline from Brazil actually comes from the neighboring state of Rio Grande do Norte. Material from Rio Grande do Norte is often somewhat less intense in color, but many fine gems are found there. It was determined that the element copper was important in the coloration of the stone. The demand and excitement for this new material, which has fetched more than $50,000 per carat, earned more respect for the other colors of tourmaline.
 
The Batalha mine (“Mina da Batalha,” pronounced “Bat-tal-ya”) is situated in the Serra das Queimadas mountain range, on the side of Frade Hill (“Serra da Frade”), very near the village of So Jos da Batalha, and about 4.5 km northeast of the town of Salgadinho in the state of Paraiba, Brazil. The full name of the mine is “Mina da Batalha a Nova Era” (“Mine of the Battle of the New Era”) but “Mina da Batalha” is in general use, and some cite the name of the village (So Jose da Batalha) as also being the mine name. The harsh and dry scrubland of the area supports little agriculture, but for decades a small local mining industry has focused on industrial pegmatite minerals, especially tantalite. Access is via a good highway west from the town of Campina Grande through Soledad and Juazeirinho, and from there about 42 km more due west to Salgadinho.

Attractive elbaite was first noticed in the area by Marcus Amaral, a geologist with the Mining and Geology Department of the Federal University of Paraiba in the late 1970’s, but the potential of the deposits was not immediately recognized. In 1982, Jose Pereira of Patos, a local Paraiba garimpeiro and dealer in “black minerals” (columbite-tantalite), found a tantalite specimen containing tiny grains resembling colored sugar. Eventually he offered the specimen to another miner, Heitor Dimas Barbosa, who suspected that the colorful grains (later shown to be cuprian elbaite) might indicate the presence of gem minerals. With Pereira as his guide, Barbosa began exploring the mine dumps and tailings of the area’s industrial pegmatites (normally exploited for tantalum, industrial beryl, kaolinite, quartz and mica). In 1983 they finally relocated the source of the specimens, a small, abandoned manganotantalite prospect. Over the next few years a team of 10 to 16 garimpeiros headed by Barbosa excavated shafts and galleries in the decomposed pegmatite, finding primarily tourmaline of various common shades of green. In August of 1988, however, they encountered strikingly colored “electric” blue and sapphire-blue tourmaline: these were the first of what came to be known as “copper tourmaline,” or “Paraiba tourmaline.”

Although the area in northeastern Brazil where occurrences of cuprian elbaite have been found is fairly large, none of the localities has produced crystals equal to those found at the Batalha mine. Furthermore, almost all good crystals of any size tend to be shattered, and the remainder are generally embedded, non-gemmy and not of good collector quality. As long as mining continues in the area, the possibility of more good crystals being found exists, but their extremely high gem value probably means that most will continue to be cut as gemstones rather than saved as crystal specimens. Consequently, even very small crystals of good color, form and transparency will probably remain very rare in collections and on the market.
 

USA

Some fine tourmaline material has been produced in the US, with the first discoveries having been made in 1822, in the state of Maine. California became a large producer of loose tourmaline in the early 1900s. The Maine deposits tend to produce tourmaline crystals in raspberry pink-red as well as minty greens. The California tourmaline deposits are known for bright pinks, as well as interesting bicolors. During the early 1900s, Maine and California were the worlds largest producers of gem tourmalines.

The principal source of the best American tourmalines is a mine on Mount Mica at Paris, Maine. Gem tourmalines were discovered on Mount Mica on an autumn day in 1820 by two boys, Elijah L. Hamlin and Ezekiel Holmes, amateur mineralogists. When nearing home from a fatiguing local prospecting expedition, they discovered some gleaming green substance at the root of a tree, and investigation rewarded them with a fine green tourmaline. A snowstorm prevented a further search, but the following spring they returned to their " claim " and secured a number of fine crystals. Tourmalines from Mount Mica are found in pockets in pegmatitic granite, overlaid by mica schist, which has since to some extent been stripped off to facilitate this interesting mineral industry. Black tourmaline, muscovite, and lepidolite are found in this Pine Tree State treasure house.  Tourmalines from this source have included many specimens of rare beauty that have enriched the collections of royalty, wealthy private connoisseurs of precious stones, and of great public museums and educational institutions.

In 1972, the Dutton Mine in Newry, Maine established itself as one of the largest finds on record ever, and for a brief period of time became a world-source of superior quality red and green tourmaline.


Tourmaline Gemstones

In the 1860's, the first expeditions looking for gem and mineral resources into California’s Riverside and San Diego Counties led to the discovery of fine pink tourmaline in the San Diego County.  This discovery coincided with the reign of this gem’s greatest enthusiast in history: Most of the pink tourmaline that was mined at the Stewart Mine went to the Empress Tzu Hsi of the Ch'ing Dynasty and her entourage, who purchased everything they could get and had it exported to China.  The California tourmaline boom ended in 1911 with the death of the Dowager Empress. World War I marked an end to tourmaline mining in the San Diego area until the seventies.


Africa

In the late 90s, copper-containing tourmaline was found in Nigeria. The material was generally paler and less saturated than the Brazilian materials, although the material generally was much less included. A more recent African discovery from Mozambique has also produced beautiful tourmaline colored by copper, similar to the Brazilian paraiba.  Mozambique paraiba is often less included and has been found in larger sizes. The Mozambique paraiba material usually is more intensely colored than the Nigerian. There is a significant overlap in color and clarity with Mozambique paraiba and Brazilian paraiba, especially with the material from Rio Grande do Norte. While less expensive than top quality Brazilian paraiba, some Mozambique material sells for well over $5,000 per carat, which still is extremely high compared to other tourmalines.

Another unique variety that is also highly valued is chrome tourmaline, a rare type of dravite tourmaline from Tanzania which occurs in a very rich green color caused by chromium, the same element which causes the green in emerald.


Mythology


The name tourmaline comes from a Sinhalese word, "tura mali", meaning "mixed colored stones" and was originally applied to an assortment of colored stones consisting mainly of zircons.

The Empress Dowager Tz'u Hsi, the last Empress of China, loved pink tourmaline and bought large quantities for gemstones and carvings from the then new Himalaya Mine, located in San Diego County, California.  The Himalaya Mine is still producing tourmaline today but the Dowager went to rest eternally on a carved tourmaline pillow.

The ability of tourmaline to look like other gemstones led to some confusions.  Many gemstones in the Russian Crown jewels from the 17th Century once thought to be rubies are in fact tourmalines.  In South America, where the majority of such gem-quality material is found, green tourmaline is still referred to as the "Brazilian emerald".  The quantity of such green stones which were mined in the early days of the Portuguese colonization and sent to Portugal as emerald will probably never be known.

The folk-lore of tourmaline tells us that both the introduction of this beautiful and multiphase mineral to the knowledge and appreciation of mankind, and its discovery in America, were due to children. Soon after the year 1700, some children in Holland were playing in a court-yard on a summer day with a few bright-colored stones indifferently given to them by some lapidaries, who evidently had not classified, or invested them with any particular value or significance. The children's keenness of observation revealed that when their bright playthings became heated by the sun's rays, they attracted and held ashes and straws. The children appealed to their parents for enlightenment as to the cause of this mysterious property; but they were unable to explain or to identify the stones, giving them, however, the name of aschentreckers or ash-drawers, which for a long time clung to these tourmalines.

Elbaite is named for the Island of Elba, Italy, where many fine specimens were found, including the famous "Moor's Head Tourmaline".

Tourmaline gemstones are credited with the power to enhance one's understanding, increase self-confidence and amplify one's psychic energies, and aid in concentration and communication.  Conversely, they are said to neutralize negative energies, and dispel fear and grief. 

Tourmalines were believed to be useful in relaxing the body and the mind, and to help in the treatment of many different diseases such as anxiety, blood poisoning, arthritis, and heart disease. 

Pink Tourmaline is said to inspire love, spirituality and creativity, and to give wisdom and enhance one's willpower.

Watermelon Tourmaline is said to be very effective in helping one to recover from emotional problems.

Tourmaline is the birthstone for October and corresponds to the astrological sign of the Libra.

No Tourmaline exactly resembles another one.  Paraiba tourmaline gemstones show many faces and are thus excellently suited to match all moods and tempers. It does not come as a surprise then, that ever since ancient days Paraiba tourmaline has been attributed with magical powers. Paraiba tourmaline is supposed to be an especially powerful influence on love and friendship, giving them permanence and stability. In the fascinating world of gemstones, Paraiba tourmaline is very special. Its availability and its glorious, incomparable color spectrum make fancy tourmaline one of our most popular gemstones. We have a large collection of Fine Paraiba Tourmaline Gems to help add beauty, stability and even a little love to your life.

 

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