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Gemstones from Brazil

Gemstones found in Brazil
Gemstones from Brazil

There are a few countries that could claim to be the most bountiful source of gemstones, Sri Lanka and Mozambique spring to mind but perhaps Brazil could be at the top of the pile.

A land famous for its sandy beaches, samba music, football players and vast jungles can also boast amethyst, ametrine, citrine, diamonds, emeralds, topaz, tourmaline and even opals as a few of its natural gemstone resources.

Although there is evidence that ancient civilizations used amazonite, beryl, emeralds, obsidian and jade, and there are stories of native tribes using diamonds as plaything for their children, the story of Brazilian gemstones begins with the arrival of Portuguese colonists in the 16th century.

Brazil was 'discovered’ in 1500 when Pedro Cabral landed in Porto Segura. Brazil was given its name by the colonists after the brazilwood tree which was plentiful at the time and the timber from this tree along with sugarcane was soon exploited.

Whilst searching for gold, Portuguese miners discovered diamonds in Bahia, where early historian Pero Gandavo wrote of 'mines of white stones such as diamonds' in 1576 and explorer Sebastiao Tourinho found blue and green gemstones - probably tourmalines - whilst searching for emeralds in 1572.

Pretty soon, Brazil became the world largest source of diamonds and would remain so until the discoveries of new mines in South Africa 150 years later.

In the 18th century, German immigrants from the gemstone cutting town of Idar-Oberstein, discovered amethyst in what became to be known as the Minas Gerais region of north east Brazil. At the time, amethyst was as valuable as rubies and sapphires.

Slowly but surely over the next two centuries more and more colored gemstone varieties were discovered across this resource rich land until it has reached the point of being the largest source of gems in the world.

We have put together a list of them in alphabetical order and present to you what we feel are the best of Brazil's colored gemstones.

Amethyst

Once upon a time, Amethyst was a very rare gemstone, valued as highly as sapphires and rubies, and worn by kings, queens and archbishops as a sign of wealth and power.

Massive quantities of this lovely purple gemstone were found in the mountains of Brazil in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, near the border with Uruguay. Then more and more deposits were found all over the country.

This caused the value of Amethyst to drop dramatically around the world but its stunning appearance meant its popularity exploded and sales went up accordingly.

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Birthstone for Month

February

Wedding Anniversary

6th

Ametrine

Ametrine is the stunning combination of two of the most popular and spiritually powerful gemstones in the world - amethyst and citrine. And not like an ugly mix of purple and yellow paint but the two distinct colors in a single gemstone - they really are quite amazing.

Ametrine has both a romantic and murky history. It was first introduced to Europe in the 1600s after a Spanish conquistador married princess Anahi from the native Bolivian Ayoreos tribe. As a gift he had received an ametrine gemstone and when he returned to Spain and people saw the two colored gemstone they all wanted one.

The only source for centuries was Bolivia. In the 1970s the military government banned the mining and export of Ametrine but some material was smuggled over the border into Brazil and sold on as Brazilian ametrine from there.

Since then, ametrine has been discovered in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, which is on the Bolivian border, and legal mining and exporting has reopened in Bolivia. All a bit confusing but what is easy to understand is the beauty of this bi-colored gemstone.

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Andalusite

Andalusite was named after a region in Spain where it was mistakenly thought to have originated and although there are still gemstone found in Spain, most are now sourced from Brazil.

It is an interesting gemstone with rustic brown colors highlighted by gold and red flashes and a durability which makes it suitable for all sorts of jewelry pieces.

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Aquamarine

It is generally acknowledged that the world's finest aquamarine originates in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. It is the stunning color that sets it apart from the rest - light to deep greenish blue or bluish green (take your pick) known as Santa Maria - and makes it so sought after around the world.

Brazilian aquamarine first caught the attention of the world when the president gave Queen Elizabeth II a present of a necklace and a pair of earrings for her coronation in 1953. Nine large oblong aquamarines along with an even larger pendant stunned everyone who saw them.

There is also the Dom Pedro aquamarine. Originally three feet long and weighing a hundred pounds it was actually dropped by the prospectors, doh! Two broken pieces were sold off but the largest remaining piece was named Dom Pedro after Brazil's first emperor.

The uncut Dom Pedro aquamarine crystal was worked on by master craftsman, Bernd Munsteiner for ten months turning it into the 10,000 carat work of art which now sits in the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

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Birthstone for Month

March

Wedding Anniversary

19th

Aventurine

Until the 19th century, Aventurine, the so-called lucky stone, was referred to as the 'gemstone of the Amazons' as it was believed that the Brazilian sources supplied amulets for Amazonian warriors.

It was first mined in the Bahia district in eastern Brazil in the middle of the 18th century and is still found there to this day.

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Beryl

Beryl is one of the most valuable gemstone families in existence, counting emerald, aquamarine and morganite amongst its members. Brazil is home to many beryls including the less well known and very affordable Golden Beryl.

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Carnelian

Carnelian is a very reasonably priced, generally vibrant orange gemstone with a long and respected history stretching back to the days of the Ancient Roman and Egyptian empires where it was often used as an official seal.

Brazil produces much of the world's supply of this traditionally lucky gemstone.

Carnelian was a very popular choice for carving amulets in ancient times but the skills involved were lost over the centuries. When people in the dark ages occasionally came across one they thought they were natural and gifts from the gods.

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Wedding Anniversary

17th

Chalcedony

Chalcedony is a type of translucent quartz that is found in a single color. That is not a scientific definition but is the simplest way to describe a gemstone which is part of a huge family which includes agate, bloodstone, jasper, carnelian and many more.

Brazilian chalcedony tends to be light blue to violet in color and is found in the state of Rio Grande do Sul.

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Citrine

Citrine is a golden yellow form of quartz and is particularly plentiful in Brazil. Often citrine is a dull colored quartz that has been heat treated to bring out the yellow color but in Brazil it is found in a naturally citrus color.

It makes a great alternative to topaz or tourmaline and is very spiritually powerful, with the nickname 'the merchant's stone' for its money attracting qualities.

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Birthstone for Month

November

Wedding Anniversary

13th

Color-change Diaspore

Diaspore was first spotted in the Ural Mountains of Russia over 200 years ago but not really exploited, then larger amounts were found in Turkey where it was sold under the trade name of Zultanite.

More recently this fascinating gemstone which can change from a light lemony yellow to a peachy pink when moved from one light source to another has been discovered in Brazil.

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Diamond

Until the 18th century, India was the only real source of diamonds but by the early part of that century the supplies began to decline. Luckily, as miners panned for gold in the rivers of the new colonies in Brazil, they came across diamonds and this country became the market's chief source for 150 years.

To this day, Brazilian diamonds are still mined from the sand and gravel of the rivers and streams around Minas Gerais and tend to have a yellowish or creamy tint.

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Birthstone for Month

April

Wedding Anniversary

10th / 60th / 75th

Emerald

Brazil has a long history of emerald mining stretching back to the late 1500s but only really took off in the 1970s and 80s. The emeralds are perhaps not as high in quality as those from Colombia or Zambia but some beautiful examples can be found.

One claim to fame though is the largest ever facet cut emerald was mined in Brazil - the 57,500 carat 'Teodora'. That's over 10kgs in weight! Rather surprisingly for such a large gemstone it has a gorgeous emerald green color.

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Birthstone for Month

May

Wedding Anniversary

20th / 35th

Hematite

Hematite is a fascinating gemstone with its metallic look and mirror-like finish when polished. This gemstone can be found in abundant quantities near the literal mountains of iron ore in the Minas Gerais State of Eastern Brazil.

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Imperial Topaz

In the late 1700s, Imperial Topaz was discovered in the prolific mines of Ouro Preto. This was around the same time that they were found in the Ural Mountains of Russia. The name came from the Russian Czar but the Russian gems are all but depleted now while this gorgeous pinkish golden gemstone with almost sherry-like colors is still found in Brazil.

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Birthstone for Month

November

Wedding Anniversary

23rd

Morganite

Another member of the famous beryl family found in Brazil, like emeralds and aquamarines, is morganite. It is usually found in subtle pink hues and was named after famous American banker, JP Morgan - but don't let that put you off this very pretty gemstone.

It can be found in very large carat sizes and exhibits excellent clarity unlike its cousin, emerald. It is not often treated in any way and is best cut to show off its color and brilliance. At nearly 8 on Mohs hardness scale it can be used in all forms of jewelry.

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Paraiba Tourmaline

One type of tourmaline deserves a section all to itself - the Paraiba. Discovered in the state that bears its name in 1987, Paraiba Tourmalines have a unique neon blue color that make them one of the most expensive gemstone on the market - if you can find one!

Unfortunately it appears that all production of this stunning gemstone has dried up in Brazil though there is always hope.

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Birthstone for Month

October

Wedding Anniversary

8th

Quartz

Yellow, Rose, Smoky, Strawberry and Rutile are just some of the marvelous quartzes found in Brazil and exported throughout the world. The quantity, quality and diversity of quartz originating in Brazil has no equal anywhere else on earth.

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Tourmaline

Early Portuguese settlers and explorers traded with the indigenous people of Brazil for a variety of green and blue gemstones and also came across them while panning for gold in the rivers and streams. These colorful gemstones were sent back to Portugal to be cut and sold as emerald and sapphire jewelry.

It was not realized until nearly 200 years later that they were an individual gemstone all of their own, tourmaline, when scientific examination revealed all.

Since then, tourmalines of all colors - including some with two or three colors - have been discovered in Brazil and sold around the world.

Shop Tourmaline Gemstones
Shop Tourmaline here

Birthstone for Month

October

Wedding Anniversary

8th

Topaz

Apart from the very expensive Imperial Topaz, Brazil is also home to many other topazes, available in a variety of colors and an array of cuts and sizes to suit all budgets and tastes.

Topaz has been mined in Brazil, especially in the rich Minas Gerais region, for centuries. This includes the very popular blue topaz gemstones including Sky Blue, Swiss Blue and London Blue. These are usually treated to create the dazzling colors but make great jewelry pieces.

Shop Topaz Gemstones
Shop Topaz here

Birthstone for Month

November

Wedding Anniversary

4th

Quick Guide to Brazilian Gemstones

Gemstone Color

Amethyst

Violet / Purple

Ametrine

Purple / Yellow

Andalusite

Brown / Multicolor

Aquamarine

Light Blue

Aventurine

Green

Beryl

Yellow / Golden

Carnelian

Orange

Chalcedony

Lavender / Violet

Citrine

Yellow / Golden

Diaspore

Color-Change Yellow / Pink

Diamond

Clear / Yellow

Emerald

Green

Hematite

Metallic

Imperial Topaz

Golden Orange

Morganite

Light Pink

Paraiba Tourmaline

Neon Blue / Green

Quartz

Various

Tourmaline

Various

Topaz

Various

  • First Published: November-27-2020
  • Last Updated: November-27-2020
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    Reproduction (text or graphics) without the express written consent of GemSelect.com (SETT Company Ltd.) is strictly prohibited.
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