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:
Photos by Vincent Pardieu, Jean Baptiste Senoble (Nomad's, Bangkok, Thailand)
The 2005 and 2007 expeditions were supported by the Gubelin Gem Lab located in Luzern, Switzerland, as the 2005 expedition was financed by the Gubelin Gem Lab and the AIGS Gemological Laboratory in Bangkok, Thailand and, because at the time of the 2007 expedition the author was working at the Gubelin Gem Lab as a gemologist.
The "Bridges" tsavorite mining operation, Mindi Range, Taita Hills, Tsavo, Kenya
We visited Scottish geologist Campbell Bridges at his mine in Tsavo area in July 2005. When we returned to Tsavo in Oct 2007, C. Bridges was sadly not present. On August 11th 2009, we learned sadly that Campbell Bridges was murdered at his mine in Tsavo while his son Bruce Bridges was wounded after what seems to be a dispute over mining rights.
C.Bridges told us while we met him at his mine that he was first searching gems on the surface, following the practical idea that if you dont find any gems on the surface you are not likely to find any deeper: Most of the time a gem deposit close to the surface will get erroded and the surviving gem material will then be available on the surface. Of course only the largest and cleanest pieces would survive the weathering which means that in most cases the best stones will be found in the first few months of the mining. His camp was build around his famous "tree house" where he used to live for many years not to get disturbed too much by the numerous elephants, lions and buffaloes living in the Tsavo area.
The main difference between most of the underground mines we visited in Tsavo area 2005 and 2007 and the "Pit number 2" of the Bridges mining operation, is that few underground mines in Tsavo area were dig in a way to enable later mechanization as the tunnels were not dig regularly from the start. Bridges told us wisely that a mine to be one day mechanizes should be started with some rules or the mechnization might become then very difficult. We could see at his mine several ingenious but simple systems to take out easily the waste (using small wagons), to ventilate the mine and to avoid flooding.
Near the mine a small simple sorting station was present using a limited amount of water (rare in the area) to wash the dusty stones collected from the mine and identify then easily what is green from the waste. The visit was very interesting as we could see and study some good gem quality tsavorite porphyroblasts (see photos). We could also see some interesting Kenya rough tanzanite that Campbell Bridges used as decoration in his garden associated with a buffalo skull (from an "old nasty bull" which was killed by lions few days after killing one of Campbell Rangers). It was interesting to notice that the tanzanite was found naturally blue and was found sometimes also outside Merelani and outside Tanzania. Sadly the material was very fractured and not gem quality.
Studying some rough material at the Bridges operation, we could see that the Bridges tsavorite production was ranging from light green to dark green. Some stones were yellowish and very few were slightly bluish: Tsavorite color depends of its chemical composition, it seems that gems can be different from one pocket to another. Bridges reported that the best stones are colored by chromium and vanadium and that the stones are less attractive when too much iron is present. He also told us that the large tsavorite are rare and that in the largest fine gem he produced from his mine during the last 30 years was an 18 carat faceted gem of "deep forest green" color.
Left to right: Kennedy Khamwathi, the author and Campbell Bridges down Bridges treetop house in Tsavo. July 2005.
Photo: J.B. Senoble, 2005
July 2005: Underground Bridges operation mining pit number 2, Campbell Bridges reveal to us some of his experience as a tsavorite miner.
Notes about the Kenya gemstone mines pages (Edited on Oct 10, 2008)
These "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. They were build with the support of ICA (The International Colored Stone Association) and particularly of ICA ambassador to Kenya Suzie Kennedy and her husband Kennedy Khamwati for the Kenya part. Kennedy was nice enough in 2005 to take us to visit all the ruby and tsavorite mines we wanted to visit. His help, presence and permanent support was highly appreciated. In Oct 2007 we were helped in the field by ruby and tsavorite miner and ICA member Genson Micheni Musa, the owner of the Tsavolite mine near Tsavo. Micheni support was also very much appreciated. I want here to dedicate these pages to Kennedy and Micheni as without them I would not have been able to collect and share all these notes about gem mining in Kenya.
The Jul. and Aug. 2005 expedition was a join expedition by the AIGS gemological Laboratory in Bangkok, Thailand (where I was then the Laboratory Director) and the Gubelin Gem Lab, in Lucerne Switzerland. I was then traveling with Jean Baptiste Senoble, one of my former AIGS gemology student, working as I write these words in 2008 for Nomad's Co Ltd, a Bangkok based gem dealer.
The Oct 2007 expedition was also part of a larger expedition to East Africa I lead in collaboration with gemologist Richard W. Hughes. I was then gemologist for the Gubelin Gem Lab. Two young gemologist and former AIGS students: Guillaume Soubiraa and Michael Rogers joined me in this expedition as well as One of Guillaume Soubiraa friends from Madagascar: Philippe Brunot.
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 an important part of the daily work at the Gubelin Gem Lab and it is important for a gemologist specialized in origin determination of gemstones to collect data directly at the source in order keep his knowledge of the world gemstone mining areas updated. 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.
Please visit the other Kenya pages on fieldgemology.org:
Special thanks, to all the Kenyan authorities we met which provided us support and help, to the miners who welcomed us at their mines, shared with us their time and their life. Your support and welcome was much appreciated! I hope that this report will be useful to all people we met in Kenya and to all the people interested in the gem trade from the production areas in Kenya to the consuming markets and for all gem lovers around the world.
Now I would like to give a more personal thanks to the following people as without their help and support during these expeditions to Kenyia, I would not have succeded in these expeditions:
First thanks to my traveling companions which helped to finance, to organize and to make this expedition a succes:
Jean Baptiste Senoble currently working for the Nomad's company in Bangkok was my gemology student at the AIGS, in Bangkok and became then one of my regular traveling companions to gem markets and mines around Bangkok. He was my traveling assistant during the 2005 gemological expeditions to Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Kenya and Tanzania. We returned together in Tanzania and Madagascar in 2008. Without his help and support these expeditions would not have even been possible. All the best to you JB!
Guillaume Soubiraa (from SMDA in Madagascar) and Mike Rogers, two former students of the AIGS in Bangkok and Philippe Brunot, one of Guillaume childhood friends from Madagascar were my travelling companions while visiting Kenyan ruby and tsavorite mining areas in October 2008. Thanks to their presence, support and presence this expedition turned to be a pleasure and a success.
All the best guys and great thanks!
These 2005 and 2007 expeditions to Kenya tsavorite and ruby mines would not have been possible without the help of local members of the Kenyan gem trade:
Suzie Kennedy is the current ICA Embassador to Kenya. With her husband Kennedy Khamwathi, they are some very active members of the Kenyan gem trade. Our 2005 and 2007 expeditions were possible thanks to their help and support.
The presence of Kennedy each day during all our 2005 expedition was very much appreciated and so useful to the succes of this expeditions. Really thanks to both of you!
Genson Micheni Musa is a Kenyan ruby dealer which turned into a tsavorite miner in Kasigau area. His mining company "Tsavolite" is located just near the famous Tsavo National Park. Micheni was a wonderful and friendly guide during our October 2007 expedition. His knowledge of the Kenyan gem trade and of the Tsavo area was very useful to the success of our expedition. Thanks Micheni!
The 2005 and 2007 expeditions were supported by the Gubelin Gem Lab located in Luzern, Switzerland, as the 2005 expedition was financed by the Gubelin Gem Lab and the AIGS Gemological Laboratory (Bangkok, Thailand) and, because at the time of the 2007 expedition the author was working at the Gubelin Gem Lab as a gemologist.
Interesting Links and Bibliography about Tsavorite:
To translate this page into your language: click on your language flag on the Babel fish icon Nevertheless please understand that the translation might be incorrect as this translation tool is far to be perfect:
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.