What do you know about Brazil? When I think of Brazil, I think of the Amazon rain forest and their capital Rio de Janeiro, where the last Olympics was.
But they have a pretty amazing array of gemstones there, too, so let's talk about that. Brazil is unique in terms of not just the quantity, but the variety. No other country really comes close. When it comes to geology, they hit the jackpot, that’s for sure!
Stunning coastline of Rio de Janeiro
Diamonds in Brazil
Perhaps you think of South Africa for diamonds. And yes, they have their share. But long before diamonds were discovered in South Africa and DeBeers took over the diamond trade, Brazil suppled the world’s diamonds. They were discovered in the early 1700’s by gold miners, and Brazil spent the next 100+ years as the world’s primary diamond source.
Today, Brazil only supplies a small amount of diamonds to the market. Diamond mining is not hugely industrialized, like it is in other counties. In Canada and South Africa, two of the largest diamond producers, the mines are drilled deep into the earth, with plenty of miners, and large corporations (Rio Tinto, for example) behind the effort churn out a lot of diamonds.
That is not the case in Brazil. Instead of being underground, their diamonds are alluvial, meaning they’ve traveled to their current location via water. So they're typically found in riverbeds or near streams by a local miner.
Emeralds and other beryls
Besides diamonds, Brazil, along with their neighbor, Columbia, provide a consistent supply of the world’s emeralds. The mining areas of Bahia and Minas Gerais have been providing us gorgeous green gems for centuries now. Not only are they beautiful, they are big, too! In fact, the Bahia Emerald, which was mined in 2001, weighs over 750 pounds!