Paraiba tourmalines are part of the Tourmaline family and scores 7 – 7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale. A relatively new gemstone, the neon-bright Paraiba tourmaline was discovered in the 1980s by Heitor Dimas Barbosa, who spent years digging in the hills of the Brazilian state of Paraiba on a hunch that something special lay undiscovered there.
While almost every shade of tourmaline can be found in Brazil, the Paraiba tourmaline is distinguished by its incandescent glow with colours ranging from vivid turquoise to majestic blue-green tones. Its unique colour is due to the inclusion of copper in the tourmaline crystal lattice, making these a new varietal of tourmaline.
To put the rarity of this gemstone into perspective, there is one Brazilian Paraiba tourmaline mined for every 10,000 diamonds.
From 2003 onwards, an even more recent discovery of copper-bearing green-blue tourmalines, similar in almost every way to Paraiba tourmalines, entered the market. Mined in Mozambique and Nigeria, these tourmalines have minute chemical differences from Paraiba tourmalines unearthed in Brazil, but a strikingly similar appearance. They have resulted in ongoing debate as to what can or can’t be defined as a “Paraiba” tourmaline. Some insist that only tourmalines from the Brazilian state of Paraiba are Paraibas, while others are more inclusive since the stones mined in Africa are so similar.
Regardless of where they come from, their beauty is inherent and Paraiba tourmalines make a truly unique gemstone choice for engagement ring designs.