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When the subject is green engagement rings, there is certainly a lot to please and excite the senses of even the most demanding couples. Whether it is the almost mystical sparkle and exquisite reflective qualities of an emerald or the unique stylings of a Brazilian verdanite, couples ‘going green’ on their engagement ring hunt are sure not to be disappointed by their choice.
But while the ‘regular’ green-tinted stones usually seen in green engagement rings are appealing and visually stunning in their own right, they still cannot hold a candle to the rarest and most spectacular of them all: the Paraíba tourmaline.
Among some of the rarest and most sought-after stones in the gemstone market, it is hard to believe the discovery of Paraíba tourmalines took place scarcely four decades ago. That is, however, the case, as this stunning variant of the regular green tourmaline (the ‘verdanite’) was first discovered in the 1980s by a Brazilian prospector, Heitor Dimas Barbosa. Barbosa repeatedly mined a certain spot in his home state of Paraíba with no basis other than a hunch that he would find something interesting.
And he did: a unique variety of elbaite tourmaline, called the cuprian elbaite which has a neon-like glow and range of colours not seen on any other tourmalines. As he dug the brightly glowing, bluish-green rocks out of the ground, Barbosa had only the faintest inkling of what he had just stumbled across: stones so rare that they only occur once for every 10,000 diamonds mined and sell for upwards of five figures each time. This is even more surprising considering that none of these stones has ever weighed more than three carats.
But while their exorbitant price is likely to be a damper on the aspirations of couples who want to have a Paraíba tourmaline set in their green engagement rings, their rarity and stunning hues will no doubt contribute to making them a big hit among wealthier clients, with the stones’ manageable size perfectly befitting their use as jewellery gems.
Couples dazzled by the beauty of cuprian elbaites but unsure if they can afford them need not, however, give up their chase altogether. In 2003, a nearly identical type of stone, with only minute chemical differences noticeable by no one but experts, surfaced in Africa, immediately sparking a discussion about what could and could not be called a ‘true’ Paraíba tourmaline.
The main difference separating these stones, the origin of which is attributed to Brazil and Africa having, at one time, been conjoined, from ‘true’ Paraíbas is size: Africa’s stones are invariably more than five carats, in contrast to a Paraíba’s average of three. Being at once less rare but considerably bigger than the ‘real deal’, these alternative gemstones may be the perfect solution for couples who want one of these stones for their green engagement rings, but do not wish to go over budget.