First discovered in 1987 in the eastern Brazilian state of Paraíba, the vibrant green to blue-green Paraíba tourmaline contains copper (distinguishing it from other tourmalines) and is among the rarest gem in the tourmaline family (more common tourmalines range in color from pink to dark blue). Though new sources of copper-bearing tourmalines were discovered in Mozambique and Nigeria in the early 2000s, the most prized Paraíbas come from its namesake state in South America. “Because such gems are prized for both their appearance and geographic origin, Brazil—the classic source—is the most desired in the market,” explains Robert Weldon, a colored gemstone expert at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). But, while South American Paraíbas are considerably more coveted than their African counterparts, collectors will be hard-pressed to deduce a gem’s origin by sight. Weldon says labs with sophisticated instrumentation are needed in order for experts to search for the presence of copper, manganese, zinc, and lead. The following designers have acquired extraordinary examples of the uncommon stone and have created settings that are equally stunning.
JULY 18, 2016