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2) Emeralds in Brazil

The explorers (called bandeirantes) in the seventeenth century searched several times in the interior of the country to try to find emeralds, but they never found any. Only in the 1960s, were emeralds found in the state of Bahia by chance. Since then, emeralds have been found in several places in Brazil in the states of Minas Gerais, Goias, Tocantins, Bahia and Ceara. The following chronology shows the discovery sites of the places where we can find emeralds in Brazil (Table 1). The history of appearance of emeralds in Brazil is also described graphically in the maps shown in Figure 1 (Silva, 2004).

Table 1 – Places where emeralds are produced in Brazil


Place (State)

Who found



Salininha (BA)


First place where emeralds were found. Today the mines are inundated by Sobradinho Dam.


Carnaíba (BA)


Do not produce anymore, Exhausted


Itabira (MG)




Sta Terezinha, now Campos Verdes (GO)


Still producing


Socotó (BA)


Do not produce anymore, Exhausted



Minas Belmont e

Piteiras (MG)

Rails workers

Still producing


Monte Santo (TO)

A 12 years old boy

A boy found emeralds when he tried to drill a well in a banana plantation.


Garimpo do Toco (MG)

Garimpo da Mina de Cantagalo (muncipalities of Nova Era/ São Domingo da Prata, MG)


Gems of excellent quality; Still producing


Jazida da Fazenda das Piteiras (MG) between Itabira and Nova Era

Canadian company: Seahawk Minerals Ltd.. (sold to locals in 2003)

Found when drilling for exploration;

Emeralds occur in an area of 20 Km2 , out of a 10 km2 area that belongs to the company

Source: Castañeda (2001).

Obs: The acronyms of the states. BA = Bahia, GO= Goias, TO = Tocantins, MG = Minas Gerais

Figure 1 – Occurrence of Emeralds known in Brazil over time (the maps show the Northeastern part of the country)

Nowadays, emeralds are constantly produced in the states of Bahia, Goias and Minas Gerais, and recently in Tocantins (Figure 2). The production regions are:

• Bahia - Carnaíba, Socotó

• Goiás - Santa Terezinha, Campos Verdes

• Minas Gerais – Itabira, Nova Era (Capoeirana)

But emeralds have also been found in the following places:

• Bahia - Vitória da Conquista, Brumado

• Tocantins - Monte Santo (most recent discovery - May/1997)

• Minas Gerais - São Domingos do Prata, Antônio Dias, São José da Safira

• Ceara - Taua

According to a specialists,3 the state of Bahia does not produce emeralds in economic scale anymore. Ceara had some emerald occurrences in the past, but no production has occured recently. The city with an economy depending on emeralds is Campos Verdes, and to a lesser extent Sta. Terezinha (GO) and Nova Era (MG).

Figure 2 – Occurrence of Emeralds in Brazil. Source: Cigem, 2006

This research analyzes the three most important emerald producing regions in Brazil: Campos Verdes/Santa Terezinha (Goias state), Nova Era/Itabira (Minas Gerais state) and Carnaiba/Campo Formoso (Bahia state). These three regions produce more than 95% of the Brazlian emeralds and those of best quality. The analyses of these cases help us to understand the dynamics of local development in an emerald-producing region.

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