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The Electric Blues of Paraiba Tourmaline

Arguably the most expensive type of tourmaline on the market today, is the copper bearing "neon blue" trade variety known as Paraiba. This type of tourmaline was made famously popular because of its bright, electric colors of neon blues and greens. Its known for one of the most intense saturations in a light toned gemstone.

Paraiba tourmaline was named after the first major commercial source of the material, Paraiba, Brazil. Nowadays however, many similar specimens seem to be coming out of Mozambique, with criteria for the variety being significant amounts of the trace element copper.

Most alternatives don't come close to the dazzling intensity of this tourmaline's color. Blue zircon, followed by aquamarine and topaz make good second choices due to having similar hues, but the vividness of color is still not as "electric" as most gem collectors have come to describe.

Tourmaline as a gemstone, actually comes in a great variety of colors, including a pinkish red kind that the trade calls "rubellite". This sometimes causes confusion with ruby, for newcomers to the gem trade.

Other varieties like liddicoatite, chrome tourmaline and indicolite all have an established following on the international markets. Paraiba tourmaline is the newest type of tourmaline to skyrocket in popularity, outclassing several other famous varieties in price and demand. Its current sources are still limited however, and so most of the material is priced quite high this 2018.

Rough material is also highly included, and cutters have to be very careful when polishing and faceting high-grade crystals. Damaging these specimens can result in a loss of carat weight, which would mean significant drops in selling price and appeal.

Today, Paraiba tourmaline, or copper-bearing tourmaline comes in greens, purples and blues, all with high tendencies to possess bright saturations. The connoisseur market clamors for more material, as awareness of this gem grows steadily over the passage of time.
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