Brilliant Brazilian Gems
When thinking of Brazil, a few associations that may immediately spring to mind are the Rio Carnival, Samba and the Amazon River and Rainforest. However, there is another colorful connection to the country. Beneath the surface of the Brazilian soil are deposits of several gem types. Brazil has a diverse melting pot of cultures and climates, and it is not only colorful with regard to the festival and its culture, but also has a spectrum of colorful gemstones within its borders. Let's take a look at some of the mining locations of Brazil and the gemstones produced therein.
One of the most famous mining locations in Brazil is Minas Gerais, which is the fourth-largest state and second-most populous state of Brazil. It is a landlocked state situated in Southeastern Brazil. The name, "Minas Gerais" comes from Portuguese and means, "General Mines". Mining has taken place in this area for hundreds of years, since it was a Portuguese colony in the 1700s. During this time, there was a gold rush after gold was discovered in Minas Gerais. In fact, a local form of architectural design known as Barroco Mineiro "Miner Baroque" was developed here, which features golden Baroque-style grandeur. The gold rush brought about an influx of people from other areas. The discovery of diamonds led to a short period of diamond mining. Later, the cultivation of coffee was the main source of income for this state. The gemstones that are currently mined in Minas Gerais include beryl (emerald and aquamarine), tourmaline, chrysoberyl (both alexandrite and cat's eye chrysoberyl), amethyst, kunzite and imperial topaz. Some extremely large gemstones have been unearthed from Minas Gerais. The Dom Pedro Aquamarine is the largest faceted aquamarine in the world and was mined from Minas Gerais. Additionally, the "El-Dorado Topaz" from Minas Gerais is the largest faceted gemstone in the world. It is a yellow, emerald-cut topaz gemstone weighing an amazing 31,000 carats.
Paraíba is named after the Paraíba River. It is a popular tourist destination which is located in the Northeast of Brazil on the Atlantic Coast. During the 1700s, Paraíba was established as a sugar producing area, and gemstones were only discovered there relatively recently. In 1989, some of the finest blue-green tourmaline crystals ever seen were discovered in Paraíba, and became known as Paraiba tourmaline. The bright, unique color is caused by the presence of copper and manganese. The valuable gemstone was found by Heitor Barbosa, who led a mining expedition which operated for five years before making the lucky discovery of neon blue-green crystals. Due to its bright turquoise color, Paraiba tourmaline is extremely popular, and because of its scarcity, it is also very valuable. The largest Paraiba tourmaline gemstone, known as "The Ethereal Carolina Divine Paraiba" is set into the "Paraiba Star of the Ocean Jewels" necklace designed by Kaufmann de Suisse along with Vincent Boucher. The Guinness Record-Breaking Paraiba tourmaline gem is a 191.87 carat oval stone which measures 36.44 mm by 33.75 mm. Aquamarine is another blue gemstone that is found in Paraíba.
Bahia is said to get its name from the Portuguese word for "bay", after the Bay of All Saints, which was probably the first thing which European explorers saw when arriving by ship there. Bahia is in Eastern Brazil on the Atlantic Coast. Like Paraiba, Bahia is a fertile region which is suited to plantation growing, especially sugar cane and cacao. Gemstones that are found in Bahia include emerald; one huge piece of rough emerald is known as the Bahia Emerald and contains nine emerald crystals, one of which is the width of a man's leg. Also, chrysoberyl (alexandrite and cat's eye), aquamarine, amethyst and citrine are mined in Bahia.
Other states of Brazil in which gemstones occur include Rio Grande do Sul in the far south, Ceará, Goiás, Pará, Espírito Santo and Tocantins. For gem lovers who are interested in learning more about the gem mining of Brazil, there are now geo tours that take visitors to see the mines and gemstones of Brazil for themselves. Such a gemmy tour could be a veritable carnival of color for colored gemstone hunters, who can combine beautiful tropical sunshine with colorful jewels.
- First Published: November-06-2015
- Last Updated: August-15-2017
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