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:
- (a) CRPG-CNRS, Nancy université, 15, rue Notre-Dame-des-Pauvres, 54501 Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy, France
- (b) IRD-LMTG, 24, avenue Édouard-Belin, 31200 Toulouse, France
- (c) BRGM, 3, avenue Claude-Guillemin, 45060 Orléans, France
- (d) Department of Geology, University of Dar-es-Salaam, P.O. Box 35052, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania
- (e) Swala Gem Traders, Uchumi House, Sokoine Road, Arusha, Tanzania
- (f ) ORYX, 3, rue Bourdaloue, 75009 Paris, France
- (g) GIA Laboratory Bangkok, 10th Floor, U-Chu-Liang Building, 968, Rama IV Road, Silom Bangrak, Bangkok, Thailand
The first study of the Lemshuku ‘tsavorite’ mining district is presented. From bottom to top, the lithostratigraphic column corresponds to a metasedimentary sequence composed of quartzite, fine-grained graphitic gneiss, kyanite-graphite gneiss, biotite-almandine gneiss, metasomatized graphitic gneiss and dolomitic marble. ‘Tsavorite’ occurs in quartz veins and rarely as nodular concretions. Two factors control mineralization: (1) lithostratigraphy, with ‘tsavorite’ in association with pyrite and graphite confined to quartz veins within the metasomatized graphitic gneiss; and (2) structure, with the mineralized veins characteristically controlled by tight isoclinal folds associated with shearing.
(Mark Saul of Swala Gem Traders presenting the author a piece of tsavorite he just mined at Lemshuku
Photo: V. Pardieu / Gubelin Gem Lab, 2007)
The author visited the Lemshuku deposit in 2005 and 2007 when Swala Gem Traders mined it. In 2009, few months after Julien Feneyrol to spend several weeks at Lemshuku to study the deposit, Swala Gem Traders stopped their mining operation there. While returning to East Africa in October 2009, the author was not able to get in contact with the new owner and thus could not visit it once again. If what is currently happening at the former mine operated in the past by Swala Gem Traders is not clear to the author, the area is nevertheless still very interesting as Tanzanite One with their "Tsavorite One" project have started also to prospect in the region around Lemshuku. The author would then not be surprised to read or hear again about Lemshuku in the future as one of the main tsavorite supplier in East Africa.
Note: Update about the July 2010 tsavorite workshop in Nairobi, Kenya:
Today I was able to communicate with Dr. Gaston Giuliani from the Nancy University on another subject related to Tsavorite: Last year in October 2009, we tried to visit together the ruby and tsavorite deposits in Kenya but our expedition was not really succesful (see blog Kenya 2009).
Dr. Giuliani and Dr. Ohnenstetter were then just back from a tsavorite workshop in Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania) and they were working on a similar project for 2010, this time in Nairobi (Kenya). Today I was told by Dr. Giuliani some excellent news about the Nairobi 2010 workshop he was then planning:
The workshop happened and reportedly turned to be very successful. After the workshop more than 40 people also were able to go on a field expedition to Tsavo lead by Dr. Cedric Simonet.
Currently a research program about tsavorite in collaboration between Kenyan and French Universities is in preparation. Dr. Giuliani told the author that he was very happy about the way things happened during summer 2010.
GIA FE09 (GIA Laboratory Bangkok Field Expedition 09): Part 04: Sep. 20 - Oct. 07, 2009: Central Tanzania:
This is the third part of the GIA Field Expedition to East Africa, I'm leading for the GIA Laboratory Bangkok: I arrived in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania from Mozambique with gemologists Lou Pierre Bryl (Canada), and Flavie Isatelle (France) on Sep. 20th 2009. We met there our Tanzanian friends: Abdul Y. Msellem a Tanzanian gem broker and Moussa a Tanzanian driver working for Fortes Safaris.
Our objective was to continue the work I did during my previous expeditions in 2005, 2007 and 2008. This time our focus was to visit the ruby and spinel deposits in Central Tanzania at Winza, in the Morogoro province (in Matombo and Mahenge districts) and around Umba.
Our visit started in the Tanzanian capital Dodoma to get the support of the mining officer to visit Winza. We did not miss the opportunity to visit the Geological Survey of Tanzania in order to get some useful maps and publications.
"Our team (left to right: Vincent Pardieu, Flavie Isatelle and Lou Pierre Bryl) leaving the Geological Survey of Tanzania in Dodoma: It is all the time useful to get some good maps and publication before to visit gem mining areas"
Photo: A. Y. Msellem / GIA Laboratory Bangkok, 2009
We then left to visit Mpwapwa and the Winza ruby and sapphire mines. I visited already Winza with Jean Baptiste Senoble in April 2008 and we were then the first gemologists to visit this unique deposit.
(For more information about Winza, please visit our Winza expedition report and for more information about the gemology of these interesting rubies and sapphires, please read the complete article published in Gems and Gemology about Winza)
It was then the end of the rainy season and more than 5000 miners were working there washing the gem rich ground for rubies and sapphires and digging the hard rock underneath to get blue and pink sapphires.
During that new visit we found that around 500 miners were still working there. We could visit the mining area and collect some interesting samples. An update about ruby and sapphire mining in Winza will be soon published by the GIA Laboratory Bangkok after my return in Thailand. I will keep you informed.
"Geologist and gemologist Flavie Isatelle returning to the surface after a visit underground in Winza"
Photo: V. Pardieu / GIA Laboratory Bangkok, 2009
After our visit to Winza we focused on visiting the ruby and spinel deposits in the Morogoro region. First we visited the ruby deposits located in the Matombo district of the Uluguru Mountains in the west of Morogoro. We visited the different mining area near the Mwaraze and Ngongolo villages, I visited already in 2005 (see our Tanzania 2005 expedition report), and which were very active during the 1980's up to the beginning of the 1990's producing rubies.
After this visit we continued to the Mahenge where we visited the spinels deposits near Ipanko, Mbarabanga and Kituti. It was interesting to see the evolution of gem mining at Ipanko after our visits in 2005 and 2007. Spinel mining stopped at Ipanko few days after our visit in 2007 and started again in April 2009 after a controversy regarding the mining rights. Ipanko is now again producing beautiful red spinels and is now the most active gem mining area in Tanzania after Merelani with nearly 1,000 miners.
Besides Ipanko we also spent some time continuing the visits I did in 2005 and 2007 of the numerous ruby deposits near Lukande, Mayote, Chipa, Gombe, Ibogoma, Nbangayao, Kitonga, Kitwaro and Kisewe. Some of these areas were reported to have produce during the 1980's and 90's some very fine and large marble type rubies and they remain very poorly known.
"Mahenge Spinel Crystal"
This rough crystal we saw at the mines was weighting nearly 100 grams, this is nothing compared to a 54kg rough spinel but this can give an idea about what we speak about...
Photo: V. Pardieu / GIA Laboratory Bangkok, 2009
After that visit we drove to the north of the country to Tanga and the Umba valley. Tanga is a special place for me as in 2005 I spent there some of the hardest days of my life when I was suffering from malaria.
This time our visit was more pleasant: We visited first the red zircon deposit at Mwakijembe then we visited sapphire, ruby, tsavorite, rhodolite, almandine and malaya garnet mines along the Umba river near Kigwasi and Kalalani. Then on our way back we turn our interest to tourmaline mines at Ngombeni and in the Usambara Mountains.
"A Massai trader present us his treasure: A pair of blue and orange Umba sapphires"
Photo: V. Pardieu / GIA Laboratory Bangkok, 2009
After that visit we returned to Arusha in order to do the export process for our reference samples collected in the field on site while visiting mines.
It is also for me the time to spend some more cozy times participating to the 31st IGC (International Gemological Conference) which will start on Oct 9th and will finish on Oct 14th.
"The 31th International Gemological Conference, Arusha, Tanzania, 2009"
The IGC conference means also that it will be time for my traveling companions: Lou Pierre Bryl and Flavie Isatelle to continue their own travelings respectively to Poland and Madagascar.
It was very nice to have them with me during that expedition as they were very helpful motivated to visit Tanzanian gem mining areas. I wish them all the best.
On my side after the end of the conference I will continue to Kenya with new travel companions: Dr. Gaston Giuliani and Dr. Daniel Ohnenstetter from Nancy University, France and Dr. Stephanos Karempelas from the Gubelin Gem Lab in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Our focus will be on visiting ruby and tsavorite deposits around Voi 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 Tsavo ruby and tsavorite mining areas, Kenya (October 2007):
The following "Gemstone mines of Kenya" web pages presents the result of the two gemological expeditions to East Africa in Jul. and Aug. 2005 and Oct. 2007.
The July and August 2005 expedition was a join expedition financed by the AIGS gemological Laboratory in Bangkok, Thailand (where the author was then the Laboratory Director), the Gubelin Gem Lab, in Lucerne Switzerland and Jean Baptiste Senoble, a young gemologist who was interested, after completing his gemological studies at the AIGS, to discover where the gems which were fascinating him where coming from. It was possible thanks to the support of the ICA (International Colored stone Association).
The Oct 2007 expedition was also part of a larger expedition to East Africa initiated by Richard W. Hughes, the author of "Ruby and Sapphire". The author was then gemologist at the Gubelin Gem Lab. Two young gemologists: Guillaume Soubiraa and Michael Rogers, and one of Guillaume friends: Philippe Brunot joined us in this expedition to Kenya.
The purpose of these expeditions was to visit ruby, sapphire, alexandrite, emerald, tsavorite, tanzanite and tourmaline mines in Kenya and Tanzania for gemological research purpose. Origin determination of gemstones like rubies and sapphires is the passion and an important part of the work I had to do while working in gemological labs like AIGS, Gubelin or later GIA. It is then important for a gemologist willing to specialized himself in the origin determination of gemstones to collect data on gems not only studying the reference collection inside the gem lab but also directly at the source. As a former tour guide, turned into a gemologist, it is my pleasure to share the benefit of these expeditions with you and I hope that it will benefit to the people who welcomed and helped us in the field.
"A fine Tsavorite find"
Kenya tsavorite miner Genson Micheni Musa from the Tsavolite mine is proudly presenting to the author a fine tsavorite porphyroblast. Photo: V. Pardieu, 2007
Please visit the following "Kenya Gemstone Mines" pages (All pages in the old design before Dec 2008)
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.