Thursday, June 26, 2014

What is Paraiba Tourmaline? Is there "Paraiba" Apatite, Quartz, Fluorite etc.?

For awhile now, I've been seeing a lot of jewelry on etsy (and elsewhere) that is made with "Paraiba" gemstones.  I've seen Paraiba Quartz, Paraiba Apatite, Paraiba Opal, Paraiba crystals, as well as Paraiba Tourmaline.

But what is "Paraiba"?  

In 1989, in Paraiba, Brazil, a beautiful blue Tourmaline was found.  This blue was unlike anything else---an electric blue, almost neon, sometimes called "swimming pool blue" and it seemed like it was lit from within.  It has a dazzling turquoise to green color range.   Tourmaline is a gemstone that is found in a rainbow of colors---yellows, reds, greens, black, blue---but this was special.  This beautiful turquoise blue color was due to the presence of copper and manganese.  Because of variations in the amount of copper in Paraiba Tourmaline, it can range from vivid turquoise to emerald green colors.  More manganese results in violet to red colors of tourmaline.

Paraiba Tourmaline Trillion
When this Paraiba Tourmaline was introduced to the marketplace in 1990, it was immediately in huge demand.  The demand was far greater than the supply.  Meanwhile, in Africa, around 2001, very similar Tourmaline was found that was also a vivid blue color, although just a tiny bit lighter.  It was called "Paraiba Tourmaline" even though it wasn't mined in Brazil.  This helped supply the marketplace with the demand for this blue tourmaline.  After much consideration, it was determined by the gemstone community that Tourmaline that matched the color and had  copper and manganese present could be called "Paraiba Tourmaline".

Tourmaline is a specific gemstone.  It is NOT quartz, it is NOT topaz, NOT fluorite, it is NOT Apatite, it certainly isn't Opal or glass.  Paraiba Tourmaline is extremely rare and very expensive.

Then what is Paraiba Apatite or Quartz etc.? 

"Paraiba Quartz" on Etsy--is GLASS
There is no such thing!  Because of the popularity of Paraiba Tourmaline, sellers are using the term "paraiba" to describe pretty much anything that is blue.  Apatite is blue, but it's not tourmaline.

I just did a search on Etsy for "Paraiba" and 853 results turned up.  While there are some true Paraiba Tourmalines and some "Paraiba Like Tourmalines", there are also "Paraiba Fluorite", "Paraiba Topaz", Paraiba Opal", "Paraiba Quartz", all in different colors of blues.  And that's just on page ONE!  I didn't bother to look at any other pages on Etsy.

"Paraiba Apatite" on Etsy
This is simply "creative marketing".  Sellers are using the term Paraiba to grab your attention and make you believe you're getting something of great quality.  Sorry, but only Paraiba TOURMALINE should be called Paraiba.  Honest sellers would say something like, "Paraiba color" if they must use the term at all to describe Apatite or other stones.

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