Sapphires from Brazil
Brazil is well known for its mineral wealth, producing fine quality gemstones of many varieties, including sapphires. In fact, an estimated 65 percent of the world’s colored gemstones are mined in Brazil. One has to be careful when describing sapphires from Brazil. The term “Brazilian sapphire” is sometimes used for blue topaz or tourmaline.
Limited quantities of sapphires are mined in Bahia, which produces green and pink sapphires; Mato Grosso, which produces blue sapphires; and Minas Gerais, which produces green, blue, and pink sapphires. Indaiá, in Minas Gerais, is thought to be Brazil’s most important sapphire deposit. The stones from this location tend to be dark blue to purple.
Sapphires are typically recovered from alluvial deposits with primitive mining tools and techniques. A majority of Brazil’s gemstones are mined by independent miners called garimpeiros.
All over Brazil, gem production has declined in recent years, in part due to strict environmental regulation and minimum wage laws. Governmental policy, taxation, and duties have discouraged new mining ventures and encouraged illegal marketing. Nevertheless, the country described as a “paradise of gemstones” is bound to yield many more sapphire treasures in the future.