Paraiba Lawsuit Dismissed (2007)

There has been a court battle going on over using the term Paraiba and whether this term must refer to the bright neony blue Tourmaline from that particular state (Paraiba) in Brasil or whether 'similarly' colored Tourmaline with similar elemental composition from other countries could indeed be called Paraiba.

My take, as owner of a gemstone business for over 28 years and having purchased some of the original Paraiba back in 1989/1990 is as follows:

I believe that the term Paraiba should refer to the material coming from the state of Paraiba in Brasil. It has been known to be found from one major mine, the Sao Jose da Batalha Mine specifically, but I understand a few other local mines occasionally have produced similar material. Not only did this area produce the bright vivid neon blues, but unique greens, purples, purplish blues were produced. Heating some of these colors can produce the neon blue. We sold a large Sapphire blue Paraiba Tourmaline, purchased in 1989, to "Paraiba Bob". We guaranteed that it came from this famous locality. Paraiba Bob heated it using his proprietary methods, and produced a bright turquoise blue, proving at that time that the material was indeed Paraiba as we had indicated. The value of this gemstone increased 5 fold - wholesale.

We had another 5+ct, true green blue or blue green Paraiba gemstone, with small inclusions throughout. We sent this to AGTA and after paying a hefty fee, the origin report read - Tourmaline from Paraiba, Brasil; again, we already knew of the origin but a cert from AGTA would put all doubts to rest. We sold this gemstone to a collector and investor at under $1000/ct. Note that small fine neon blue Paraiba from the original find, that is mostly clean will sell for (or was selling for within the past 5 years), $14,000 per carat, and that was for about a two carat stone, possibly even smaller. We bought melee (2mm) for the making of a championship ring for a national football team at $1000/ct about 7 or more years ago. The prices of the true Paraiba have always been high and only climbed once the original source supply started to dwindle.

I also feel that the term Paraiba could be applied to those Tourmalines coming from that state and that have an unusual color or are of original colors that originated from the original strike. Of course, the blue green piece that was certed would fall into this category. Simple everyday green tourmaline or even decent blue Tourmaline from the state of Paraiba, could be called "Tourmaline from Paraiba", as calling it simply Paraiba when it looks like Tourmaline from many other localities of the world. Calling regular Tourmaline Paraiba, would be misleading to not only dealers but to the public which has been very confused about the term Paraiba, and has been "taken for a ride" by many overseas businesses claiming Paraiba if it meant a quick sale and more money...

For those Tourmalines with bright Windex blues, neon blues, vivid neony greens, etc. coming from Mozambique, Nigeria, Namibia, etc. I feel they should be called Paraiba-Like Tourmaline. This indicates color associated with the original Paraiba strike of very bright blues and greens. I don't believe that elemental composition should really come into play because a Tourmaline contains Copper or Manganese. Certs are being seen for gems from Mozambique and other places where the gemstone contains Copper. This would then be Cuprian Tourmaline but business immediately call it Paraiba Tourmaline as soon as they find out it contains Copper, since this was a determining feature of the original Tourmaline from Paraiba State. The pinks and purples from Mozambique frequently contain Copper, and most people are calling them Paraiba. Paraiba Pink? At best, they can obviously sell it as Cuprian, as it indeeds contains Copper and that nomenclature would be correct. All That Glitters has many Tourmalines from Mozambique that are Cuprian - in the blues, pinks and especially the purples. We don't call it Paraiba; we don't call it Paraiba-like; if not certed, we are not even calling it Cuprian, though we know that the colors we have will cert out as containing Copper! The funny thing is, or to put it into perspective, the ironic thing is, that there are neony blues and greens in Tourmaline coming from Mozambique (and other countries) that looks as if they would contain Copper. The stone glows and that is what one expects from Paraiba/Paraiba-Like material, but when tested, there is no Copper to be found! So, do you pay $1000's of dollars more for a stone where the cert shows Copper and pay far less for the same colored gemstone that does not contain any Copper at all or a low percentage? Why is one paying tens of thousands of dollars for a Copper bearing Tourmaline when one might be able to find one that looks exactly like the one with Copper, but actually contains no Copper? We would sell the Tourmaline at the same price, if they had the similar colors, regardless if it was certed as Cuprian or not. Color is driving our pricing, regardless of the origin or the fact that there is Copper....

Another thing should be said - many people in the business/trade believe that all those other Paraiba wanna-bees just don't have that saturation, the intensity, that glow or that pop as a true Paraiba. They come close, but when placed side by side, many times the wanna-bees just don't match the original!

To summarize my current opinion, and opinions are rampant out there and many people are out to cash in on the Cuprian/Paraiba terminology:
1.) Paraiba Tourmaline should come from the state of Paraiba, Brasil and have an intense color, such as the neon blue people are familiar with. Bright greens also exist.
2.) If the state of Paraiba is producing the standard colored Tourmaline, one can just call it Tourmaline from the state of Paraiba.
3.) Bright Neon Blue or Green Tourmaline from other countries, whether containing Copper or not, could be called Paraiba-Like Tourmaline.
4.) If a Tourmaline contains Copper, it would therefore be called Cuprian, but doesn't necessarily reflect the origin of the gemstone and doesn't immediately mean that one calls it Paraiba. Cuprian Tourmaline comes in blue, green, pink, magenta, purple and possibly other colors.
5.) If one wants to begin naming gemstones not based on their origin, but their elemental makeup, inclusions, etc. this could become the next great debate. As labs are starting to determine origin of gemstones, it is only a matter of time before similar charatcteristics, inclusions, elements, etc. that were thought to only occur in one area of the world, start to show up in other areas. Many gemstones had similar origins around the world while they were growing, so this would not be unexpected. Taking this into account, and the fact that labs want to call Cuprian Tourmaline of bright blue, Paraiba, regardless of the country of origin, the next step could be calling Ruby from Africa, Burmese Ruby or Sapphire from Montana, Kashmir Sapphire. It wouldn't surprise me one bit, if origin reports of some gemstones from famous localities, were mis-identified as to their country of origin because they had similar inclusions, characterics, etc. that were expected of that locale, but were actually from very different origins/countries.

People, as well as many in the trade, might be confused between Paraiba Tourmaline, Paraiba-Like Tourmaline and Tourmaline from Paraiba, as I would like to define it, but it is perhaps even more complicated out there in the real world. The best bet is to trust those that one purchases from. Our receipts indicate what one is buying - one of our return policies is a Life Time Guarantee policy if the item is identified as not what it was sold for. An educated consumer is one who will benefit from the Paraiba Dilmena.