By Richard W. Wise, G.G.
A recent find of cuprian(copper colored) tourmaline from
Reportedly these gems come from an alluvial deposit near
Is Mozambique the new Paraiba?
Much of the material cuts eye clean gems. Unlike the original material from the now famous São José da Batalha mine in the Brazilian state of Paraiba and two similar Brazilian locations which yielded mostly visually included smaller gems, the Mozambique cuprian is larger and a number of eye-clean 20-60 carat stones have been cut.
The color is said to be a more uniformly "aquamarine blue" than gems from the Brazilian find which featured a color range of green, blue-ish-green to blue. The blue color, usually described as
Image: Looking pretty super, this 13.42 carat oval is a highly saturated light-medium tone green-blue hue from
Partisans of the new material from
To Buy or not to buy, that is the dilemma:
The beginning is usually the best time to buy. Why?, because even a small strike can produce an initial flood of gemstones that overwhelms the market causing prices to fall. In a market of limited size such as the colored gem market, the discovery of a new gem variety or a known gem from a new source sparks interest and as interest grows demand increases. At the same time supply declines resulting in increasingly higher prices. We have seen this cycle repeat itself time and time again:
However, in the case, Mozambique cuprian tourmaline is being hyped as the "new Paraiba" and asking prices have started out very high despite the fact that the much of the new material does not measure up to the hype. As one source put it, on a scale of 1-10 where the best of the Paraiba Tourmaline would be a 8-10, the
With the rise of the shopping channels, gem marketing has entered a new era. During the past decade we have seen a consolidation in an industry previously dominated by wildcatters, small dealers with a limited stake and an even more limited budget. The shopping channels have become economic jugernauts. Selling directly to consumers, with millions in sales and huge numbers of viewers they have begun to control the market. Jewelry Television (ACN) which advertises itself as the world's largest retailer of loose gemstones, grossed over 300 million dollars last year. Witness the recent hype over Andesine (red sunstone) which the shopping channels are also calling “the new
If you are going to buy, buy high quality and buy big sizes. Larger stones are reported to "approach" the quality of the original find and if it looks like a duck… Stones from the original
P.S. Cuprian vs. cuprite, whats in a name: My readers may have noticed a change in terminology from cuprite to cuprian this is the result of a gentle reminder from one of my faithful readers John S. White former Curator of the Smithsonian Mineral Collection: "Please, enough with this "cuprite tourmaline." Why do you continue to perpetuate what is unarguably the worst name that anyone has applied to Paraiba-like tourmaline? Cuprite is a distinct mineral species, it does not occur within or around gem tourmaline anywhere in the world. Furthermore, making the appellation even more ludicrous, cuprite is red, it is not blue nor green. You would be doing the gem world a favor if you would disavow your usage of this term while perhaps citing several of the others that have a far greater chance of being adopted." Thanks John!