Geographic origin determination of Paraíba tourmaline

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© 2019 Gemological Institute of America. Vivid blue to green copper-bearing tourmalines, known as Paraíba tourmalines, are recovered from deposits in Brazil, Nigeria, and Mozambique. These tourmalines are sought after for their intense colors. Prices are based, in part, on the geographic origin of a stone, and determining provenance is thus an important aspect for Paraíba tourmaline. However, their geographic origin cannot be established by standard gemological testing and/or qualitative chemical analyses. GIA has established sophisticated criteria requiring quantitative chemical analyses to determine geographic origin for these tourmalines. These criteria were based on several hundred samples from known sources spanning the three countries. Highly accurate and precise quantitative elemental concentrations for Cu, Zn, Ga, Sr, Sn, and Pb are acquired with laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). These data can then be plotted as a function of elemental concentration for accurate geographic origin determination.

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Gems and Gemology

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