Your guide to paraiba tourmaline
The world of gemstones is vast, beautiful, and often intimidating. Each kind of gem has its history, and gemology comes with a vocabulary that can confuse newcomers. But it’s never too late to find a new passion, and gemology offers endless stories and information to get lost in as you go.
If you’re looking for a place to begin, we’re here to start you off a few steps ahead of the rest with an all-you-need-to-know guide to one of the most sought-after gems right now: paraiba tourmaline. Relatively new to the industry, paraiba tourmaline is an exceedingly rare version of tourmaline, an already highly-unique and valuable gem. And as tourmaline is the October birthstone, the Paraiba variant allows you to elevate the perfect gift to a loved one (or yourself). From a paraiba tourmaline ring to a dangling pendant that shows off this dynamic gem, here’s your guide to understanding what makes paraiba tourmaline stand out a notch above the rest.
What is tourmaline?
Tourmaline is a rare gemstone that can come in several colors, depending on its origin. Its appearance is contingent upon each stone’s makeup, as the gem contains varying levels of iron, magnesium, aluminum, and other metals and elements that alter its dominant color. It’s also highly unique due to its trigonal crystal system, which creates a three-sided structure; rarely do gemstones have triangular crystal shapes.
Some notes on gemstones
- Tourmaline is a semi-precious gem. Only four gems have reached the “precious” designation: diamond, ruby, emerald, and blue sapphire.
- These two categories came from the 1800s, and gemstones were placed into one of the two categories based on their valuation.
- Today, semi-precious gemstones aren’t necessarily worth less than a precious gem, with some even capable of having a higher value. Some semi-precious gemstones are also rarer than the designated precious ones.
How is paraiba tourmaline different?
As mentioned above, there are various kinds of tourmaline that come from different areas of the world, each one boasting different properties and colors. Paraiba tourmaline is the rarest and unique option among them. The gem’s bright and electric coloring caused by its copper content makes it a standout, with colors falling anywhere on a blue-to-green spectrum. Paraiba tourmaline is new to the gemstone scene in comparison to other kinds of tourmaline and other gems, with its discovery coming just within the past 60 years. It was first found in Paraiba, Brazil, giving the gem its name.
What gives paraiba tourmaline its high value?
Tourmaline is a pricey gem for jewelry if you’re looking to purchase the October stone, but a paraiba tourmaline ring or necklace will cost you extra. Its neon brightness made it all the rage when first discovered, initially putting the price tag around $20k per carat. Now, it’s the gem’s extreme rarity that’s keeping prices high. It’s said that only 0.01% of mined diamonds are paraibas; that’s one in every 10,000. Additionally, the cut and quality of each gem affect the stone’s clarity, which is also a factor in determining the price. This color, rarity, and cut has the put per-carat price tag sky-high. The price of a high-quality paraiba tourmaline ring varies, but it’s all but guaranteed to cost you over $1,000 at the absolute lowest. This might include just one small paraiba gem. However, if a larger gem or other gems supplement it, that price will move up to a five or even six-figure number.
One ring might cost just under $2k. Another ring is just over $10k. The size and color of the gem and number and cut of the supplemental gemstones affect the price.
Some notes on color
- Paraiba tourmaline is valued mainly on its color.
- Not all colors of this gem are equal; the purest blue stones will be valued the highest, with mixed hues at a lower price.
- Some paraibas have rare hues of other colors, like pink or purple, but this doesn’t make them a higher price because most people are buying paraibas for their signature bright blue-green color.
How do I choose the right paraiba jewelry?
While the rarest paraiba tourmaline gems were first discovered in Brazil, similar gems were later found in Mozambique and Nigeria. This at first caused some controversy in the gemology world, blurring the definition of what can be considered paraiba. The blue-green gems are typically considered paraiba whether they’re from Brazil or an African origin, but some still insist on marking the distinction. Either way, if you want the top-notch, rarest version, the Brazilian paraibas are what you’re looking for. These gems are the ones that are one in 10,000, and when they are found, they’re coming in at just a fraction of a carat. Those of African origin are less rare and often larger, but to the untrained eye, they can be equally as beautiful.
Some notes on buying paraibas
- Due to the gem’s rarity, paraibas are nearly always custom cut. They often come in pear and oval shapes.
- The gems rarely come in sizes bigger than one carat, regardless of origin.
- A paraiba tourmaline ring with a small gem that shows a brighter color may cost more than one, boasting a giant gem with less blue hues. Again, color is critical.
- Paribas is mainly featured in rings and necklaces.
- Several designers and esteemed jewelers implement Paribas into their products.
The complicated world of gemology can captivate anyone, and it’s not hard to see why. From the stones’ origins to their rarity and value, it’s a fascinating field. But whether you’re searching for a gift or just beginning your journey into gemology, paraiba tourmaline will never fail to impress.
Story by Jacob Maslow