The World’s Most Expensive Tourmaline: by John and Laura Ramsey

paraiba-tourmalines-brazil

Back in 1987 when we were all getting excited about the Nova Era alexandrite find in Brazil, there was a new find of tourmaline in Paraíba, Brazil.

Paraíba is in what Brazilians call the Nordeste (Northeast).  Looking at a map of South America Paraíba is a small Brazilian state that sticks out about as far East as any part of the continent.   The Nordeste is a generally dry area (they grow cotton in the Nordeste [does this remind anyone of Arizona and cotton]).  Apparently the Nordeste is in the rain shadow of South America.  If you also look at the shape of South America and Africa you can see that Paraíba fits nicely into the area of Africa now known as Nigeria.

Paraiba tourmaline mine brazil
Paraiba tourmaline mine in Brazil

The second area to have produced “Paraíba type” tourmaline is Nigeria.  The Nigerian material is to my eye the equal of the material from Paraiba—probably formed around the same time and before the continents were ripped apart.  I’m guessing there is some more on the ocean floor in between.  Anybody have a submersible?

Paraíba tourmaline soon surpassed all other colors of tourmaline for price.  Prior to Paraíba, indicolite and rubellite tourmaline held the championship for the highest price in tourmaline.  Paraíba vastly outstripped the other two and soon was bringing about $10,000 per-carat in the best colors and desirable sizes—at the dealer to dealer price.

Cheers— John and Laura Ramseyjohn's blackberry 151


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© Ramseygems.com, Inc., 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from John and Laura Ramsey is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to johnandlauraramsey.com with appropriate and specific links back to this original content.

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