The luminescent, neon-blue tourmalines were originally discovered in the Brazilian state of Paraiba and were named after it. Decades later, a gemstone from the same family was discovered in Nigeria and Mozambique in Africa. That’s because these copper and manganese-colored gem deposits were separated millennia ago by continental drift. Paraiba gems first appeared on the market at the beginning of the 1980s, creating a stir with their stunning supercharged color and stunning appearance. They immediately joined the exclusive club of high-octane rarified gemstones such as Burmese rubies, Colombian emeralds, and Kashmir sapphires. Leon Mege’s award-winning Paraiba jewelry is highly regarded by industry experts, fashion critics, editors, curators, and bloggers as unique works of art. In 2015, Leon Mege was honored with the most prestigious jewelry award – the AGTA “Best Of The Show” for his Paraiba cab-and-French-cut diamond ring, which you can view here. Paraiba tourmalines come in many colors, including pale green, purple, and violet, among others. That said, the most sought-after ones are the Windex-colored, neon-blue Paraiba tourmalines. While an intense saturation level is an important feature of this gem, it comes in various tones, from light to medium dark.
Brazilian Paraiba is the most valuable tourmaline variety. The copper-bearing tourmaline from Africa is slightly less valuable. It is virtually indistinguishable from the Brazilian variety and equally beautiful. The great disparity between the value is the extreme rarity of Brazilian material. While the Brazilian mines are practically closed, with only a few occasional stones making their way to the market, the African mines still yield a measurable amount of Paraiba tourmalines. Once the African mines are exhausted, the price of African Paraiba will undoubtedly skyrocket, catching up to the astronomical prices of their Brazilian counterparts. That itself presents a great buying opportunity.
Since there is no other place in the world where similar stones exist, buying the African Paraiba tourmalines definitely makes sense. Unless you’re a professional gemologist, it is practically impossible to distinguish African and Brazilian gems because of the similarity in their chemical composition. The most respectable gem labs such as Gubelin or AGL can positively identify the stone’s origin based on a collection of observations and analytical data. The best samples from Nigeria or Mozambique show colors that are as vivid and saturated as stones from Brazil.
In 2006, at the International Gemstone Industry Laboratory Conference, the term “Paraiba tourmaline” was legally adopted as the name of the variety of the mineral known as cuprian elbaite, regardless of its geographic origin. This means that the copper and manganese-bearing tourmaline can be legally called “Paraiba Tourmaline” regardless of which locality it came from.
Its scarcity and neon color. The supply of gem-quality Paraiba tourmalines is finite, making them precious crystals with astronomical prices giving even the finest colored diamonds a tough competition. There are so few Paraibas in the world that only a single Paraiba is found for every 10,000 diamonds, making Brazilian Paraiba tourmalines so scarce that collectors and jewelry lovers literally hunt them down. The presence of copper in Paraiba tourmalines is what gives the gem its ethereal, radiant blue hue. To be called “Paraiba,” a stone must have some copper content. A spectroscope analysis can detect a general absorption starting at 600 nm. This marker is only present in copper-bearing tourmalines. Paraiba Tourmaline looks exceptionally well in bright light as well as in spaces with dim or poor lighting. Just like other tourmalines, Paraibas have 7-7.5 hardness making them well suited for jewelry wear. The issue is not their sturdiness but their high prices.
The color of the Paraiba tourmaline is the decisive factor in its value. It might come as a surprise that all Paraiba tourmalines are heated to release their color. Heat treatment is commonly used to enhance gemstones’ color. Other varieties of tourmaline such as rubellite and rubies, sapphires, tanzanites, beryls, zircons, and other gems are routinely heat treated. The heating is done using special equipment which gradually increases the temperature to about 500-700F over hours and sometimes, even days. Regular, high heat treatment leaves identification marks in the gemstone crystal structure, while low heat does not. Because of that, gemological labs are not certifying any heat treatment in Paraiba tourmaline. The general assumption is that all Paraibas are heat-treated, although the heating could naturally occur in theory.
Paraibas should be handled with respect due to their exclusivity, high cost, and their unbelievable magnificence. Paraiba tourmalines have the same sturdiness as any other tourmaline variety, so wearing Paraiba on your finger will eventually result in slight-to-moderate abrasion and minor chipping that could be polished off with some loss of weight. Due to that, the faceted stones, especially those of exceptional quality, are recommended for occasional wear or set into pendants, necklaces, and earrings – in other words, pieces where precious Paraiba is relatively safe from hard knocks a ring would sustain.
Who knows what awful things people do with their hands, but the signs of damage are often a testament to the daily abuse the ring has suffered. Cabs are much more practical when it comes to casual wear and are recommended for rings. Many translucent Paraiba cabs have natural inclusions of copper having a shimmering effect when the light hits them, resembling “aventurescence,” gemstone phenomena.
The glistening Paraiba cabs are stunning, lending themselves to unorthodox jewelry designs that stand out. Setting a Paraiba tourmaline into dark metals such as antiqued white gold or silver helps to accentuate its color. Paraiba could be combined with green, yellow, purple gemstones and, of course, looks stunning with white diamonds. Only the most experienced jewelers and setters should be allowed to touch the gem that routinely commands prices exceeding $100,000 per carat. Here is a look at Leon Mege’s work with Paraibas over the years. Leon Mege’s concept of “Affordable Couture” can help you become the proud owner of an exquisite gem that will not break your budget. We have many loose Paraiba tourmaline stones, both faceted and cabochons, to be mounted into handmade pieces that are uniquely yours. Leon Mege offers Paraibas of any origin: Brazil, Mozambique, or Nigeria.
The most valuable property of Paraiba is its color. The Paraiba tourmalines are cut to maximize the weight and preserve the volume. You should not expect perfect symmetry and ideal proportions from Paraiba. The color saturation and gem’s transparency are its most valuable properties, and that’s what you should focus on. The Paraiba is a “Type III” gem, meaning visible inclusions do not significantly affect its value. The color hue and saturation are much more important. Translucent and opaque Paraibas are usually fashioned into cabochons (cabs) – a button-like shape. The domes of Santorini churches in the sunset look like the island is encrusted with Paraiba cabs.
Paraiba tourmaline’s electrifying color gave birth to claims of its supernatural abilities to protect its owner against negative mental, spiritual, emotional, and even physical forces. Researchers at Leon Mege Paranormal Institute of Gemology (PIG) in Princeton, TX, recently discovered that wearing Paraiba will protect against a political opponent. Hillary Clinton allegedly refused to wear a Paraiba-set ring before the elections, claiming it does not work with her skin tone, and we know what happened next. Our PIG scientists are conducting human experiments testing a theory that Leon Mege mounting can intensify the protective power of Paraiba. Please let us know if you are willing to volunteer for the studies or perhaps donate your brain.
The chemical differences between the tourmalines from Brazil, Nigeria, and Mozambique are small. The traces of copper give Paraiba its unique color. Some Mozambique tourmalines are lighter because they have less copper. Brazilian Paraibas are more intense, while Mozambique has the widest ranges of Paraiba colors.”