By Randi Molofsky
Tourmalines are getting a lot of love recently–from the bold red rubellite to the beguiling teal blue/green indicolite–but no variety is more coveted than the nearly neon Paraiba. Named after the northeastern state of Brazil where they were first found, they are instantly recognizable by its electric glow of bright blue/green (attributed to small amounts of copper in its chemical composition), these gems are rare and expensive (often costing 5 figures per carat).
So, the question is: why exactly are Paraibas so pricey? For the answer, we'll have to look at the history, provenance and availability of these spectacular stones.
Discovered just 27 years ago in Paraiba, Brazil by a miner named Heitor Dimas Barbosa, this gemstone is notoriously difficult to excavate. Mined by hand to avoid damaging the crystals, Paraibas in the rough are found in pencil-thin veins deep below the earth's surface in very small sizes. Although, a bit of good news: since its discovery, chemically similar (or in cases, identical) tourmalines have been found in Mozambique and Nigeria in larger sizes, making it a bit easier to own.
Celebrities are now getting in on the action, too. Julianne Moore, one of our best dressed of the Golden Globes, paired her blue Tom Ford gown with a Chopard High Jewelry ring featuring 18.32 carats of Paraiba tourmalines and 2.98 carats of diamonds. Covered with pavé Paraibas and set into an eye-catching blue titanium, the ring was one of the most daring on the red carpet.
If you're dreaming of your own gorgeous piece of Paraiba jewelry, look no further than New York-based Suna Bros. Making jewelry in the U.S. for 80 years, this family business has a knack for choosing incredible stones for each hand-set creation. From a pear-shaped Paraiba perfect as an alternative engagement ring to fashion-forward silhouettes in yellow gold or with eye-catching diamond accents, the sky's the limit.