Paraiba is a variety of Tourmaline that contains copper. It is named after the state of Paraiba in Brazil, where it was first discovered. Over the years it has gained popularity and has become one of the most expensive and sought after semi-precious gemstones. It is also one of the birthstones of October.
History & Lore
Paraiba, also known as cuprian elbaite Tourmaline is a variety that contains copper, giving it its glowing neon properties unlike other gemstones. Being discovered only 1989 in a small mountain range in Brazil, which mining operations have ceased, it is one of the most highly prized gemstones.
The biggest Paraiba to date is the Ethereal Carolina Divine Paraiba, weighing at a stunning 191.87 cts. This Paraiba gemstone was valued to be around USD 25-50 million when it was first offered out in the market in 2009. Given current market pricings, the current price could possibly be folds over that initial estimate. This is due to the lack of supply in gem quality Paraibas in large sizes, making any Paraiba above 1ct rare.
In our inventory, we have kept a highly lustrous fairly clean 17.69 cts Neon Heart-shaped Paraiba as a masterpiece. This gemstone was mined in Mozambique and in the market, heart shaped Paraibas are extremely rare. We surrounded it with 16 top quality eye-clean Brazilian Paraibas that now have a market value of more than USD 15,000 per carat.
Paraiba is known for its vivid turquoise colour never seen before in other gems, or otherwise known as the neon colour. In just decades, Paraibas have become one of the most sought after gemstones in the market, with prices increasing folds just in recent years. Paraibas originated from Brazil, but another important source of Paraiba in Mozambique is making its way up, as the Brazilian mines been depleted.
In Paraibas, colour is more important than size. A good colour stone will be what you should be looking out for, instead of the biggest. Mozambique Paraibas are generally less saturated than the Brazilian counterparts and comes in colour range from greenish-blue to bluish-green to green. Brazilian Paraibas comes in the same colour range as Mozambique Paraibas but on average, are more saturated and the top colour has no tint of green in it. These top colour Paraibas is a key defining feature of the Brazilian Paraibas, as the Mozambique ones mainly carry green in them.
Paraibas also come in a range of colours such as pink and purple, however these are less highly prized than the electric blue and neon blue varieties.
Paraibas are generally very included with fractures and crystals. Its clarity is comparable to other gemstones such as Emeralds and is known to be the more included range of Tourmalines. Paraibas that have a massive amount of inclusions may sometimes exhibit a stronger neon colour. Also, inclusions may sometimes help to cover up windows (area where a gemstone appears to have less colour) in Paraibas as the inclusions can reflect light elsewhere. Windows are common in Paraibas due to its refractive index.
Paraibas originated from Brazil, the main difference of it with other blue Tourmalines is the presence of copper. Paraibas from Mozambique and Nigeria also contain copper, but many experts are contesting that only Brazilian Paraibas deserves the trade term Paraiba. Beautiful Brazilian Paraibas over 3 cts are very rare while Mozambique Paraibas are generally bigger in size. It is not uncommon for Brazilian Paraibas to hit more than USD 10,000 per carat. This is due the supply shortage in Brazil as the mine is mostly depleted, hence the drastic price increase, coupled with the slow production of Mozambique Paraibas.
These copper bearing Paraibas from Mozambique show a wide range of natural, unheated colors that are also popular as a collector's gemstone.
Most Paraibas on the market are heat treated to achieve the high prized neon colour. Unheated top quality Paraibas on the other hand have an electric blue. Unheated Paraibas are also available in a spectrum of colours, which are prized collections commanding high prices. The purple variety turns into neon blue after heating.
Each pair of parallel-polished Paraibas shown here was sliced from the same rough. The segments on the left in each pair are unheated, and those on the right were heated to 530°C for three hours.
Synthetic Paraibas are available on the market, hence we recommend buying only with certification. Apatites are another kind of gemstone that mimics Paraiba but are common and inexpensive. These are often passed off a Paraibas, hence it is important in buying from trustworthy jewellers.
With a Mohs scale rating of 7-7.5, Paraibas are durable gemstones for jewellery so long as it’s treated with care, as required by any gemstones, to prevent against scratching and hard knocks. Cleaning of Paraibas should only be done with warm soapy water and a soft brush.