Thanks and disclaimer:


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.


About FieldGemology. org

This website is home for "Shameless Travel Addicted Gemologist" Vincent Pardieu (B.Sc., GGA, G.G.). Vincent is "Supervisor, Field Gemology" at GIA Laboratory Bangkok. He is a gemologist specialized on "origin determination of gemstones".
This is also home for Vincent's regular traveling companions: David Bright, Jean Baptiste Senoble, Richard W. Hughes, Guillaume Soubiraa, Walter Balmer, Michael Rogers, Kham Vannaxay and many others like recently: Philippe Ressigeac, Oliver Segura , Flavie Isatelle and Lou Pierre Bryl.

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.


Website Map


Index page: Vincent Pardieu's Blog

About the Author

About me : How did a countryside Frenchman became a "Shameless travel addicted gemologist"? ( Under construction)


Contact the author:


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Popular Articles

"Tsavorite, an Untamed Gem" with R.W.Hughes, first published in ICA's InColor (Winter 2008)
"Working the blue seam" The Tanzanite mines of Merelani with R.W.Hughes first published on
"Spinel, the resurection of a Classic" with R.W. Hughes, first published in ICA's InColor (Summer 2008)

Gemological studies

(Apr. 2009) "Sapphires reportedly from Batakundi / Basil area" a preliminary study about unusual sapphires we saw at GIA Laboratory Bangkok
(Mar. 2009) "Rubies from Niassa province, Mozambique" a preliminary study about rubies we saw at GIA Laboratory Bangkok
"Lead glass filled rubies" :
First published on AIGS Lab Website (Feb 2005)

Expedition Reports

Autumn. 2009: GIA Field Expedition FE09: Rubies from Mozambique. (pdf file)

May. 2009: GIA Field Expedition FE08: Melos and their pearls in Vietnam. (pdf file)

Dec. 2008 and Feb-Mar. 2009: GIA Field Expeditions FE01 and FE04: Rubies and sapphires from Pailin, Cambodia. (pdf file)

Aug. 2008: Sapphires and Tsavorite from the south of Madagascar with the AFG (Association francaise de Gemmologie) : Available soon...

Apr. 2008: Expedition to the new Winza ruby deposit in central Tanzania with Jean Baptiste Senoble and the support of the Gubelin Gem Lab

October 2007: Gemological expedition to East Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) with Richard W. Hughes, Mike Rogers, Guillaume Soubiraa, Warne and Monty Chitty and Philippe Bruno:

Summer 2006: Expeditions to Central Asia gem wealth with Guillaume Soubiraa and the support of the AIGS, the ICA and the Gubelin Gem Lab:

Oct. 2005: Colombia by J.B. Senoble

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:

- Feb. 2005: A visit to Thailand, Cambodia with the AFG (Association Francaise de Gemmologie) (under construction)

- 2002-2007: Expeditions to Pailin (Cambodia), Chanthaburi Kanchanaburi (Thailand) Houay Xai (Laos) Mogok, Namya (Burma) (under construction)

- 2001: Expeditions to Namya, Hpakant and then Mogok with Ted and Angelo Themelis and Hemi Englisher (under construction)

Find our blogs using the following Keywords:

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Find our photos using the following Keywords:

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Discover fieldgemology newsletter:
(Currently under "hibernation status"...)

Number 01: Sept 2006
(I know: it was long time ago...)



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

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:




Creative Commons License

The photos and articles on are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Feel free to use the photos and articles with links and credits. No commercial use without permission.
All the best,

January 24th, 2010 | Keywords:Thailand , Kanchanaburi , sapphire Travel |
Blog Title: FE11 Thailand, A visit to Kanchanaburi

GIA FE11 (GIA Laboratory Bangkok Field Expedition 11): Jan. 22, 2009 - Jan. 24, 2010:


With two gemology students: Tracy Lindwall (USA) and Jazmin Amira Weissgarber Crespo (Germany) we decided to have a week end field expedition to the SAP sapphire mine in Kanchanaburi. The purpose of the field expedition was to get an update about sapphire mining around Bo Phloi in Kanchanaburi and for Tracy Lindwall to advance on her personal project regarding "conservation gemology".

(The SAP sapphire mine main washing plant in 2005, it was then still in operation with more than 100 trucks bringing gem gravels to wash every day.)
Photo: V. Pardieu / AIGS, 2005)

The interest about the SAP sapphire mine in Kanchanaburi is that it was a large scale sapphire mining operation believed to be for years the world largest sapphire mine. The SAP investors were former tin mining entrepreneurs from Kanchanaburi region. Due to the low prices for tin at the end of the 1980's and the new sapphire finding near Bo Phloi in Kanchanaburi in 1978, they decided to move from tin mining to sapphire mining as they could use for sapphire the same equipment they were using for tin.


SAP Mining Co. Ltd started its operations in September 1987. The deposit is located in the Lum Ta Phoen Basin which was covered by lavas coming from the fault zone in Ma Kah Creek about 3 million years ago. There sapphires, black spinel, pyroxene, red garnet and zircons were mined under 7 to nearly 20 meters of overburden.


What was interesting at SAP is that from the beginning of the sapphire mining was planned in order for the land to find a use after sapphire mining will be finished in the area. The water used at the mine was processed with several sedimentation basins before to be released and a several projects including agriculture, fish farms, golf and resort were put in place for the day sapphire mining will not be anymore profitable.


During our last visit in Jan 2010 we were informed by the SAP staff there that sapphire mining had completely stopped in 2009. Now the only mining activity remaining is for construction and decoration material and the company is focusing on the extension of its "Blue sapphire" golf resort. A clever way to use the former mine landscape with its numerous deep lakes and hills.


(The remaining mining activity at SAP mining construction material. At the back a bouddhist temple and its crematorium and the basalt rich hills from which the sapphire rich lava once flowed several millions years ago.
Photo: V. Pardieu / GIA Laboratory Bangkok, 2010)

We went to visit the former mining area. We could see that the former washing plant, which was still in use in 2009 when the author last visited the area, was now abandoned and that there were some important works all around the area in order to develop it into new directions. The area was still beautiful and green with many birds looking to enjoy the lakes and the water.

(An Indochina tiger at Kanchanaburi tiger temple... What future for them there and in the wild?
Photo: V. Pardieu / GIA Laboratory Bangkok, 2010)

Finally after lunch we decided to return to Kanchanaburi and as we still had few hours we decided to visit what has become one of the most famous attractions in Kanchanaburi the Indochina Tiger conservation project at Wat Pa Luangta Bua Yannasampanno.


It was a way to prepare ourselves for the coming Year of the Tiger and finally see with our own eye this temple and its tigers. With its growing success entrance fees had become much higher and the project is now becoming quite controversial. As usual the best way to get an idea was to go there and see with our own eyes. The difficulties the monks are facing seem to be very important: How to feed the tigers and to keep them healthy? To give them a decent place to stay? But may be most of all: How to handle the success of the temple? How to give to the hundreds of tourists visiting the temple everyday what they want? Most of them have no idea about how to get close to a tiger and see them as big cute teddy bears... It is obviously not easy to get enough experienced and trained staff to do that, and of course obviously the temple needs new infrastructures to handle its success: Entrance fees are going up and at the same time controversies about greedy monks making money with tigers... Not easy. Not much about gemology here but it was an interesting visit nevertheless...


So to all of you, happy "Chinese New Year" and have a great year of the Tiger!

April 6th, 2009 | Keywords:Field Report GIA , Thailand , Kanchanaburi , sapphire , nin , spinel Travel |
Blog Title: GIA_FE06: Thailand: A visit to Kanchanaburi sapphire mines

GIA FE06 (GIA Laboratory Bangkok Field Expedition 06): Apr. 04 - Apr. 05, 2009: Kanchanaburi
That week end again I decided that watching TV or working on this website would not be a good option. It was time to continue my visits of Thailand sapphire mining areas for the GIA.
"Monday to Friday at the lab, week end in the field!", this is a field gemologist type week. Something nice also as it enable the field gemologist to travel with few motivated friends and make the whole thing more pleasant and more efficient: With Richard W. Hughes, his wife Wimon Manoratkul, Valentina Petri, a young Austrian gemologist from Vienna and Raphaelle Delmotte, a young French girl working in Bangkok, we decided to leave Bangkok and spend the week end visiting sapphire mining areas around Kanchanaburi.
We drove to Bo Phloi, the small mining town 30km in the north of Kanchanaburi to visit the SAP sapphire mine. During the end of the 80's and the 90's, this mine was one of the largest sapphire mines in the world. It is something very unusual in Thailand where most of the gemstone mining operations were small scale mining. The SAP Company is an important industrial mining company which decided to mine gems. Again to have Richard W. Hughes with me was very interesting as he was the first to report about the SAP large scale mining operation when he visited the area as he noticed at the end of the 80's that many unusual sapphires appeared in the Bangkok gem trade. Wimon presence was also great as even if Richard and I can speak some Thai, to travel with a gemologist fluent in both Thai and English is really nice while meeting people at the mines. An when this gemologist is also an excellent photographer, and a great travel companion then the whole stuff turn into a dream team!

(A view over the mining operation as we saw it at SAP mine. The machines were then mainly removing the overburden to be able to work later th sapphire rich layer located 20 meters deep.
Photo: V. Pardieu / GIA Laboratory Bangkok, 2009)

The mine is much less active as in the past and the former mining pits were turned into lakes and their surroundings into a lovely golf and a week end resort. We could nevertheless witness some mechanical mining with excavators and trucks, but the miners told us that now due to the high cost of gas and to the fact that the best places were already mined, most of the income from the mining was not coming anymore from the sapphires but from the sand and the other construction material. Nevertheless, sapphire mining was still active and a huge washing plant was processing the gem rich ground bring by the trucks.

(A security guard is watching the workers picking sapphires on the belt at SAP mine, Kanchanaburi.
Photo: V. Pardieu / GIA Laboratory Bangkok, 2009)

Further at the mine sorting house a group of workers were sorting the sapphire rich gravels on a mechanical belt... Besides sapphires the mine is know to produce a lot a black opaque spinel (locally called "nin") and some zircons. We saw few sapphires that day as they were then sorting the big gravels: Most of the mine was reported to be currently composed of small stones. But Kanchanaburi is known to have produced many sapphires over 50 carats.

(A French girl and a Thai stone: Raphaelle Delmotte holding a small blue sapphire from Kanchanaburi.
Photo: V. Pardieu / GIA Laboratory Bangkok, 2009)

After that visit we returned to Kanchanaburi and visited a little the area around the famous bridge over the River Kwai. Besides few genuine gemstones a multitude of vendors were selling mainly imitations and synthetics were, a real nightmare/wonderland for gemologists willing to train their skills!
All the best,

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.