At Troy O’Brien Jewellery we absolutely love the variety of colour found it tourmaline, but one of the most striking and rare is the beautiful neon blue Paraiba tourmaline.
Paraiba tourmaline was found in the late 1980s by prospector Heitor Dimas Barbosa. He believed there was something special hidden in the hills of the Paraiba region in Brazil and spent years digging to find this elusive treasure. He was finally rewarded with a handful of fine tourmaline crystals that had the most unique colour. The area was mined heavily for the next five years, with some areas practically raised to the ground. However, there have been no more major finds and expectation is that the treasure is depleted.
In a curious twist, in the early 2000’s, tourmaline gems of a similar neon colour started appearing out of Nigeria and Mozambique. Scientists have tested these stones and found them to be chemically identical to those found in Brazil.
Gemstone colour comes from various elements being present in the crystal. Scientists found that Paraiba tourmaline derived its spectacular electric luminosity from a combination of copper and manganese, elements not found in any other form of tourmaline. How could such a rare gem be found on two different continents? When these crystals were formed, the continents had not yet separated – if you look at the shape of Africa and the shape of South America, they nestle into each other very well, with the Paraiba and Nigerian regions becoming neighbours. There is some discussion as to whether the African material can be called Paraiba – it is generally accepted that Paraiba tourmaline comes form Brazil and Paraiba-like tourmaline comes from Africa. Good quality stones out of the Brazilian mine are generally not larger than 3cts and are slightly richer in colour than their African cousins. Larger stones tend to come out of Africa.
As the Brazilian supply is almost exhausted after 3 decades of mining, the price for these rare gems has skyrocketed. Whilst there is a steady supply out of Africa, the price still remains high as these beautiful rare gems become more sought after by discerning jewellery collectors.
To view our stunning collection of these exquisite gems in our online store, click on the images below: