Important Note: The author: Vincent Pardieu is an employee of GIA (Gemological Institute of America) Laboratory Bangkok since Dec 2008. Any views expressed on this website - and in particular any views expressed by Vincent Pardieu - are the authors' opinions and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of GIA or GIA Laboratory Bangkok . GIA takes no responsibility and assumes no liability for any content on this website nor is GIA liable for any mistakes or omissions you may encounter. GIA is in particular not screening, editing or monitoring the content on this website and has no possibility to remove, screen or edit any content.
We are gemologists (gemmologists) sharing a passion for gemstones, gemolology (gemmology), gem people and traveling.
You will find in this website gemological expedition reports and some studies of gemological interest.
Visiting many gem mining areas we saw that people in remote mining and trading areas have difficulties to access to gemological publications. As today the Internet can be accessed in most of these gem mining areas and trading centers, the author started to build this website to give gem people living there the opportunity to see the result of the gemological expeditions they were associated in. It is a way to thanks them for their time and collaboration and to help them to get access to more gemological information.
At the same time the author hope that these expedition reports will please the people from consuming countries interested in gemstones and fascinated by their mysterious origins. Our purpose here is to help people facing difficulties to get quality first hand information about gems and their origins to get the information they need through this website and its links.
With our field expeditions to gemstone mines and gem markets around the world, we intend also here to share our passion for photography, gems and our fascination for the work of the "Gem People" bringing gemstones from the ground to magnificent jewelry.
From the gems external beauty to the intimate beauty of gemstone inclusions, from gem lore to the mines, the people and the landscapes gems origin from, we expect to share with you our passion for gemstone beauty.
We also invite you to join us on some gemological forums we are active in as they are convenient tools to get rapid answers to your questions as they are regularly visited by many other passionate gemologists, jewelers, hobbyists and professionals willing to learn more and share their knowledge about gemstones.
Index page: Vincent Pardieu's Blog
About the Author
About me : How did a countryside Frenchman became a "Shameless travel addicted gemologist"? ( Under construction)
Sep. 2005: Madagascar with Richard W. Hughes and Dana Schorr (Will be available one of these days...)
Summer 2005: Gemological expeditions to South East Asia (Vietnam) South Asia (Sri Lanka) and East Africa (Kenya, Madagascar and Tanzania) with J.B. Senoble and Tanguy Lagache with the support of the AIGS, the ICA and the Gubelin Gem Lab:
- Introduction to AIGS/ICA/Gubelin Gem lab 2005 Expeditions
Special THANKS for their support for our field expeditions since 2005:
about gems, gemology, field expeditions, studying gemology, minerals, jade, pearls or jewelry? We recommend these FORUMS where the author is contributing:
Do you want to STUDY GEMOLOGY?
Here are some recommended institutes where the author studied gemology in Thailand ... and was happy about his investment!
For those willing to go further after their gemological studies: Recommended Advanced Gemological Courses:
To finish here are some BOOKS about gemology the author have read and appreciated and would like to recommend to people willing to learn more about gemstones, gemology and the places where gemstones are found:
GIA FE09 (GIA Laboratory Bangkok Field Expedition 09): Part 05: Oct. 08 - Oct. 15, 2009: 31st IGC Congress Arusha:
After spending many hours driving on dusty roads or visiting mines, these few days in Arusha were the occasion to meet a lot of people, attend to interesting presentations and also travel around Arusha to visit mining area with the rest of the gemologist attending the IGC.
But first you may wonder what exactly the IGC is?
The I.G.C. stands for the "International Gemological Conference". It was started in Europe in 1952 by a group of enthusiastic gemologists, including the famed Prof. Edward Gubelin. It is a bi-annual gathering which is attended by gemologists from around 30 different countries. The main goal of this organization is to enable cooperation between gemologists from around the world particularly between gemologists from gem producing countries and gem consuming countries. Membership is by invitation only, and has some specific rules: Typically each country can have only a maximum of 2 to 5 representatives (depending on country size) selected on the basis of scientific and ethical standards. This organization is independent from any commercial operation. Besides the normal members, the organizer can also invite some guests to attend to the conference. Usually the IGC is then some kind of "old timers" meeting but this time, and this is something very new, several young gemologists were among the people invited to the conference.
I was invited at the 31st IGC as a guest by John Saul and his son Mark Saul (Swala gem Traders), as they knew that I was traveling to East Africa for the GIA Laboratory Bangkok at the time of the IGC. It was my first participation to such event and it was a real pleasure. The event despite the economic crisis was successful: It was well attended with about 40 people from about 15 countries including many friends.
The conference was open on Oct 9th in the evening after a speech from the Governor of the Arusha region. The opening ceremony was followed on Oct 10th and 11th of 2 days with interesting gemological presentations at the Arusha hotel. There was an obvious focus on gemstone deposits and gems from East Africa, but these were also several interesting presentations about pearls, diamonds and some general gemological topics. As a guest of John Saul I was not supposed to give a presentation, nevertheless Thanong Leelawathanasuk from the GIT who was giving a presentation on Mozambique rubies was very nice to invite me at the end of his presentation to give an update about the different ruby mining areas in Mozambique.
The conference was the occasion for the IGC board to be renewed. It is composed now of the following seven members (by alphabetical order): Georges Bosshart (Switzerland), Emmanuel Fritsch (France), Henry Hanni (Switzerland), Michael Krzemnicki (Switzerland), Jayshree Panjikar (India), John Saul (International), Tay Thye Sun (Singapore), Gamini Zoysa (Sri Lanka) and Hanco Zwaan (Netherlands)
At the end of the conference, as usual the people attending the conference were asked about the location of the next IGC, the only proposal was from Michael Krzemnicki who proposed to host the 32nd IGC in Switzerland in 2011.
It was also proposed to create a website for the IGC which in my opinion would be a good thing as it was not easy to get reliable information about what is the IGC on the Internet.
But the IGC was not just about nice gemological presentations and coctails parties in a cosy hotel: At the end of the congress we had 3 days with short field trips to gemstones mines around Arusha...
The lab rats were going to explore rat holes!
It was a pleasure to get a chance to go to the field with some gemological monuments. A real pleasure, fun and interesting!
- On Monday 12th, 2009 we went to visit the Tanzanite One mining operation in Merelani. For the occasion Tanzanite One gave us the possibility to visit the Tanzanite Museum which will be open to the public within few weeks. With the rest of the group I went underground and visited the shaft Tanzanite One arranged for the public: The JW shaft. That was interesting as in 2005 I visited the "Main Shaft" and during my last visit in sept. I visited the "Investor shaft".
"Tired but happy: Tay Thye Sun (Singapore) and Jashree Panjikar (India) are returning from an underground visit
at the JW shaft: Tanzanite One oldest pit in Merelani"
Photo: V. Pardieu / GIA Laboratory Bangkok, 2009
- On Tuesday 13th, 2009 we went to visit the oldest gemstone mining area in East Africa: The Mundarara ruby mine at Longido producing mainly carving quality ruby in zoizite material for nearly 50 years. I visited already the mine in 2005 with Jean Baptiste Senoble. It was a pleasure to travel to the mine driving through the Massai in the North of Mount Kilimanjaro: On the way we saw several giraffes, oastriches, zebras, gazelles and antelopes. This new visit at Longido was interesting as unlike in 2005 we were able to go underground, witness how ruby on zoizite was mined and collect underground some interesting reference samples.
is probably East Africa's oldest mining pit.
Photo: V. Pardieu / GIA Laboratory Bangkok, 2009
- On Wednesday 14th, 2009 we went to visit the Manyara emerald and alexandrite mines located near the famous Manyara National Park. It was interesting to see the difference few years after my visit in 2007. To reach the mine we entered the Manyara National Park by the north and drove for about one hour through the Park bordering Lake Manyara which was very dry. On the way we could see many wild animals: Elephants, buffaloes, antilopes, giraffes, baboons, and many birds. It is all the time a pleasure for me to see Nature associated gemstones. The fact is that national parks are truly gems as they also fit to the definition of a gem as they associate beauty, (sadly) rarity and (I hope...) durability.
"Exploring emerald and alexandrite mines in Manyara "
Visiting the alexandrite and emerald mining area near Manyara I could not resist to explore the old mine tunnels. Prof. E. Fritsch from Nantes University (France) was following me underground. I was impressed!
Photo: V. Pardieu / GIA Laboratory Bangkok, 2009
- After that most of the people attending the conference went to visit the Williamson diamond mine while some others went to visit the Mahenge spinel mining area or the Winza ruby and sapphire mines. On my side I left for the week end with an old buddy: Swiss gemologist and geologist Walter Balmer who was also attending the conference. Walter gave a very interesting presentation about the geology of the ruby rich Uluguru Mountains near Morogoro. He was also traveling in East Africa for about a month around Mahenge and Morogoro. We decided that it was time to take two days resting. We then went to fulfill an old dream and went camping on the Ngorongoro caldera. That was gemmy!
"Camping on the Ngorongoro caldera "
Camping in the wild in East Africa is all the time an interesting experience, in the evening an elephant was quietly feeding while around the camping site, while during the night a pack of zebra visited us doing weird noise. In the morning it was nice to meet 20 meters from the camp entrance a wandering hyena!
Photo: V. Pardieu / GIA Laboratory Bangkok, 2009
It was a very interesting visit as I was able to rest and think a bit about some projects I wanted to work on for many years.
On October 17th I then left to Nairobi in Kenya to try to visit the Tsavorite and ruby deposits in Tsavo area in Southern Kenya.
This article written by the author in association with Richard W. Hughes was first published in InColor, Fall 2008, pp. 36–45, the magazine of the ICA (International Colored stone Association).It was a special request from the ICA as they had appreciated another article from the author about tsavorite called "Tsavorite, une pierre Africaine" published in the French gemological magazine: "Revue de gemmologie AFG" in 2005.
"Tsavorite cut, rough and porphyroblast from Tsavo region, Kenya" Stones courtesy: Genson Micheni Musa/ Tsavolite Co Ltd, Photo: V. Pardieu/Gübelin Gem Lab, 2007
Traveling to East Africa in 2005 with Jean Baptiste Senoble, the author priorities were mainly rubies and sapphire, nevertheless Jean Baptiste Senoble had a contagious passion for green stones and motivated the author to add to their visit schedule the tsavorite deposits located in Tsavo near the ruby mines. Things became worse for the author when JB Senoble got the support of African mining veteran Campbell Bridges, then he got into a passion for the "Untamed green beauty".
There is nothing more contagious than traveling to the source with a gem afficionado. Few years after that first adventure, the author was each time he got a possibility, the author was enjoying visiting tsavorite deposits. With this article the authors are trying to explain their interest for this fascinating gem.
Expedition to gemstones mining areas in Tanzania: (October 2007):
Introduction: This report (in two parts) presents the details of the field expedition to Tanzania lead by the author in October 2007. The author was then working as a gemologist for the Gubelin Gem Lab in Lucerne, Switzerland when his friend Richard W. Hughes (working then at the AGTA GTC Laboratory) asked him if he could help him to visit Tanzanian gem deposits in East Africa. After some difficult negociatiosn with his laboratory the author was allowed to take some holidays and travel to Tanzania with Richard W. Hughes and his group.
The group was composed of Richard W Hughes, the author of "Ruby and Sapphire", Warne and Monty Chitty, Mike Rogers, Guillaume Soubiraa and Philippe Brunot. For the expedition we got the support of Mark Saul (From Swala gem traders) and Abdul Y. Msellem a young Tanzanian broker who was already the author guide in Tanzania during his previous visit in 2005.
We started our visit in the north of the country in Arusha.
We travelled first to Morogoro where we visited some moonstone (I should probably say "peristerite"...) and corundum deposits. Then we continued to Mahenge to visit ruby and spinel mining areas. The visit was interesting as it was just few months after the discovery of several huge spinel crystals. Then we took the road to Songea and Tunduru famous for their sapphire mines. After that we continued to Ruangwa to visit its tsavorite mines. We returned then to the north of the country where we visited the Tanzanite mines at Merelani, emerald and alexandrite mines at Manyara, tsavorite mines near Komolo village and tourmaline mines near Lendanai in the Massai steppe.
Two reports are available on fieldgemology.org (with the old design of fieldgemology.org, before Dec 2009)
Eric Saul, (from Swala Gem Traders) presents proudly to the author an exceptional red spinel from Mahenge. The stone weighting more than 10 carats is exceptionally clean and is believed to have been cut from one of the giant crystals found in Mahenge during summer 2007. Photo: V. Pardieu, 2007
This expedition to Tanzania was in fact very succesful not only for the areas visited and the samples collected but also for the contact created with local miners and traders. Few weeks after the author return in Switzerland, his local contact Abdul Y. Msellem informed him of the discovery of a ruby deposit near Winza.
These expedition reports were also the base of two publications in collaboration with Richard W. Hughes:
"Working the Blueseam: The Tanzanite Mines of Merelani" about Tanzanite mining at Merelani, available both of fieldgemology.org and ruby-sapphire.com
- "Downtown: Gem hunting in Central & Southern Tanzania"
about our expedition to the south of the country, available also both on fieldgemology.org and ruby-sapphire.com
A visit to gem markets and gem mining areas in Tanzania (Summer 2005):
Abstract of the Tanzania 2005 page (Available at that link): This web page presents the field expedition lead by Vincent Pardieu (then Director of the AIGS Gemological Laboratory, Bangkok, Thailand) to Tanzania in July 2005. This fieldtrip was part of the expedition supported by the AIGS gemological laboratory and the Gubelin Gem Lab with the help of ICA to Asia and Africa during summer 2005. During that expedition the author was helped by Jean Baptiste Senoble, a young French gemologist who studied gemology at AIGS in Bangkok in 2005.
That expedition was planned with the support of ICA Member Mark and Eric Saul from Swala Gem Traders in Arusha. With the help of Tanzanian gem broker Abdul Y. Msellem, we visited numerous gem deposits starting from Tanzaniteone (Tanzanite mine at Merelani), Lemeshuko/Komolo (Tsavorite), Lossogonoi and Longido (ruby), we travelled then to the coast and visited the Umba area (sapphire, garnet), we continued south to Morogoro where we visited ruby and spinel deposits in the Uluguru mountains and then near Mahenge. We travelled then south to visit the Songea sapphire mining area and finally the Tunduru area producing rubies, sapphires, and many other gems including spinels, garnets, chrysoberyl, diamonds. We then returned to Arusha after about a month traveling around Tanzania.
"Left to right: Back in Arusha after a month in the field in Tanzania: Jean Baptiste Senoble then 20 years old, Mark Saul and Vincent Pardieu. After 4 months in the field, including some hard time with malaria (for the author) and serious food poisoning for Jean Baptiste Senoble, we were very tired and had lost about 10 kilos each..." Photo: Eric Saul, 2005
Important Note: Vincent Pardieu is an employee of GIA (Gemological Institute of America) Laboratory Bangkok since Dec 2008. Any views expressed on this website - and in particular any views expressed by Vincent Pardieu - are the authors' opinions and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of GIA or GIA Laboratory Bangkok. GIA takes no responsibility and assumes no liability for any content on this website nor is GIA liable for any mistakes or omissions you may encounter. GIA is in particular not screening, editing or monitoring the content on this website and has no possibility to remove, screen or edit any content.