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
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.