When talking about precious jewels, the first thing that comes to mind are diamonds, emeralds, sapphires and rubies. In the same way it happens if one talks about precious stones and their price. However, there are also incredibly beautiful gems of which little is known and which could be as or more expensive than those most recognized by most people. Such is the case of the Paraíba tourmaline, which is considered one of the most expensive gems in the world.
Tourmaline belongs to a group of minerals of class VIII, known as silicates. Its name comes from the Sinhalese word “touramalli”, which means, stones of mixed colors, such denomination was mainly applied to stones like zircons. There is another theory that its name is related to the Sinhala word “turamali”, which means stone that attracts ashes, which refers to its ability to acquire an electrical polarity when subjected to high temperatures.
As for its color, it can be in almost all colors, from transparent or colorless – called acroíta – to black – called plover or dravita -, passing through red, blue, pink and green, prevailing dark greens and pink tones – called elbaíta, liddicoatita- brown or yellow -dravita, buergerita-. The most outstanding one is the green one more similar to emerald green and the Paraíba variety, that has a bright electric blue (Paraíba tourmaline) and the one mentioned in this article.
Also, the rarest tonality is the blue variety (called indigolita). The red tourmaline is called rubelite, and the green one, verdelita, although those names are not associated with the sorts. Even many tourmalines can present several colors in the same crystal. For example, the watermelon tourmaline is one of those that can present a degrade ranging from red to green because of its association with that fruit.
Now, when we talk about the Paraíba tourmaline, we refer to one of the most recognized discoveries of gemmology during the 20th century, whose name comes from its place of origin, Paraíba, a state plagued by precious stones in the tropical country, Brazil.
According to the geography of this territory, the state of Paraíba is constituted by resistant and very old rocks that date approximately from the Precambrian period, that is to say at least 2.5 billion years. These rocks form a deep crystalline space naturally arranged for the production of beautiful gems.
It was in 1987, when the spectacular tourmalines came to light, those that today are known as “Paraíba tourmalines”, thanks to the tireless work of the geologist Héctor Dimas Barbosa. This is the only tourmaline variety that contains copper and it is due to it its wonderful color, as well as its intense brightness.
The Paraíba tourmaline is one of those gems that break with the paradigm that the diamond is the most expensive gemstone in the world, because clearly there are other pieces that can surpass it in beauty and in the value of it by carats. Why is this? In the first place to the demand, in second place to beauty and in third place to the difficult thing that is to find them and to extract them from nature.
In the jewelry market the Paraíba Turmaline and the well-known Tanzanite reaches a price per carat higher than 800,000 euros that are far from the 10,000 euros per carat of diamonds that have starred so many moments of so many people in the world. This difference is so abysmal because for every 10,000 diamonds that are extracted from nature you only get a Paraíba tourmaline.
Interestingly, a few years ago, in 2003, a new wave of blue-green and luminous tourmalines appeared, these came from the copper mountains located in Mozambique and Nigeria. Very similar to Paraíba in every way, with very few chemical differences to those of Brazil, these have been able to weigh up to five carats or more.
Some of the theories indicate that due to the similarity between the gems, both territories at some point in the history of the planet Earth, must have been united (the remembered Pangea) and were separated due to a large number of tectonic movements, for thousands of years.
Finally, beyond its beauty and its rarity, this gem cannot be known if in the world there are no brands or people who invest in them. Fortunately, important fashion houses like Dior, or the jewelry house par excellence Tiffany & Co were among the first to use Paraíba from Brasil in their jewelry; also, thanks to clients like Taylor Swift, Heidi Klum and Salma Hayek who wore them, and in this way attracted the attention of jewelry lovers worldwide, as well as the media, turning the Paraíba Tourmaline into the most valued one in the world.