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A Buying Guide for Paraiba Tourmaline (Part-I)

Paraiba tourmalines are modern gemstones known for their remarkable saturated hues. These colourful stones are hard and durable enough for everyday wear. Most tourmalines have to undergo radiation and heat treatments to achieve their brilliant colour. Their intense neon-blue hues stunned the world in the 1980s and allowed them to make a place for themselves in the gem market.

Since they have been discovered, they have consistently risen in price. The laborious mining and geological rarity are what keeps the supply low. However, the demand is currently high and constantly rising. Due to their quality and unique colours, the value factor differs from other varieties of the gem. It is necessary for you to understand these factors before you decide to start on the buying process.


What is a Paraiba Tourmaline?

The Paraiba is a variety of the elbaite tourmaline which also has copper content. Their name originates from the Brazilian state of Paraiba, which is also its original source. Consequent discoveries of many similar stones in Mozambique and Nigeria caused much controversy over the use of the name. However, the gem community is known to largely accept Paraiba as a variety name. However, certain gem dealers might refer to the gem that originates from Africa as ‘Paraiba-like’. But, lab reports from big gemological laboratories note that the word Paraiba refers to the copper content of the stone and not its locality.

Buying and the Four C’s

  • Carat – Generally, Brazilian materials are rarely above the 1-carat mark, and it is even scarcer above two. However, gems belonging to Africa are much larger, with the stones going up to possibly 20 carats. The Paraiba tourmalines experience jumps in price at one, two, three, ten and lastly, twenty carats.
  • Cut – Because of the stone’s rarity, they receive custom cuts and are unavailable in standard sizes. The best cut can also enhance the brilliance and colour of the stone. Be on the lookout for cuts that are symmetrical with proper proportions. Also, check for any windows and dark areas, which can detract it slightly from its value. Although the quality of the cut isn’t an important factor in adding value to the gem, it ensures that the stone looks more attractive.
  • Clarity – It is known to be a Type III gem. This means that they usually contain inclusions that are visible to the eye. Hence, extremely rare eye-clean stones are the only ones that can command premium prices. Some gems may have inclusions of native copper that can appear as reflective sparkles in the gemstone. Also, in rare instances, they can also have inclusions of hollow tubes, displaying four-ray stars within the gem, which show the cat’s eye effect. But, they rarely ever appear on the market since generally, faceted gems command much higher prices.
  • Colour – The Paraiba tourmaline is copper bearing. The content of copper is what gives the gems their intense neon blue hues which make it desirable. They also tend to be highly saturated and medium in tone, which makes them the most valuable of all tourmaline varieties. The green hues are more common and arise from iron or manganese content. The colour may not significantly impact the price, but blue gems which have a strong green hue will most likely hold lesser value than visibly pure blue ones. Also, remember that gems with a primary green hue will have less value than its blue counterparts. They can have a minty hue or be somewhat yellowish in colour.

The Paraiba tourmalines are no longer known to be just a collector’s item because of their striking hues, but are being used in making jewellery, even though the supply is relatively low. Continue to Part II of this blog post to find out more about this exotic gemstone.

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