How to Identify a Paraiba Tourmaline

By Carole Ellis; Updated April 24, 2017
Paraiba tourmalines are very rare and exist only in the Brazilian State of Paraiba.

If you are interested in gemstone evaluation and identification either as a hobby or an investment, you need to take classes from a certified gemology instructor in order to get your official certification. However, if you are interested in gemstones mostly as a pleasure pursuit, then continuing your education through your own research and reading on and offline can be a good way to indulge your passion for beautiful and rare rocks. Paraiba tourmalines were first discovered in the 1980s and tend to be very small and rare.

Paraiba tourmalines are a clear, ocean blue but will also emit green

Look for a turquoise color with flashes of green. Paraiba tourmalines get their brilliant aqua color from copper, which also creates greenish flashes within a faceted stone when it is exposed to bright light. This is one of the best ways for a non-expert to identify the possibility that a stone is a Paraiba tourmaline.

Examine a cut and faceted stone for "inner" fire. Paraiba tourmalines are known for their brilliance. In fact, they appear to glow from within when they are exposed to bright lights. While most gemstones may sparkle dramatically, Paraiba tourmalines actually have a bright spot within the gem.

If possible, view your gem in sunlight and in shade.

View the stone in many different lights. Because Paraiba tourmalines have such exceptional brilliance, they will actually sparkle even in dim lightly. Diamonds and other valuable gemstones also do this, but it is unusual for deeply colored stones like this one to have this property. Do not only view the gemstone under a spotlight, but also take it into natural light and into shadows to help you decide what you are looking at.

Check the price tag. Paraiba tourmalines are extremely rare, usually far less than a carat in weight and very, very valuable. As a result, you will seldom find them in retail jewelry stores. If you do, you should expect to pay at least five figures per carat for a high quality stone.

Ask about the burning process. Paraiba tourmalines are natural gemstones, but part of their cutting process includes a "burning" under high heat to eliminate red colors. If your stone has not been burned, it is likely not a Paraiba tourmaline.

Warning

Paraiba tourmalines are nearly priceless to collectors and gemologists. If you are considering buying such a gem, get several objective opinions about the value, price and legitimacy of your gem before you make your purchase.