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) Guillaume Soubiraa () Mike Rogers ()
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 "Tsavolite" mining operation, Kuranze area, Tsavo , Kenya :
The "Tsavolite" mine was started in 1983 by Mr Genson Micheni Musa. Before starting mining tsavorite, "Micheni" as he is known in Kenya was traveling between Kenya and Thailand buying and selling mostly rubies. The mine is located inside the Kasigau ranch just outside the Tsavo National Park . It was in operation from 1983 until 1987 as then the whole Tsavo area was very insecure due to the armed poachers which were then active in the area. From 1988 to 1990 the Kenyan governments was nearly at war with the poachers and all mining activity in Tsavo area stopped.
Mining at “Tsavolite” started again in 1991. When we last visited the mine in Oct 2007, "Micheni" was working on a partnership project to mechanize its mining operation.
The mining area worked by “Tsavolite” is quite large (5 square kilometers) and several mining pits are visible around the main compound where 7 miners were living when we visited the mine in 2007.
The "Sawa sawa" underground mining area where mining started in 1993. It is a large open pit located at (03°53'21.00"S 38°33'45.00"E) where mining turned to underground. We visited its narrow tunnels in 2005 and we were able to witness and document its underground mining activity. In July 2005 we were able to collect several tsavorite pockets which when we broke them revealed themselves as "bogus" pockets as they were hosting only few tiny green crystals.
The 2 other main mining areas at the "Tsavolite" operation are open pits known as:
- The "Central Bank Pit", which was mined from 1983 to 1987 and then from 1993 to now. This "high grade mine" is a large open pit which was reported by Micheni to be famous to have produced a huge 16 kilograms pocket with fine pieces of tsavorites from 2 to 23 grams with color from medium green to dark bluish green. Besides tsavorite some rhodolite and green tourmaline were also mined there. At the Central Bank Pit as in many other tsavorite mines in Southern Kenya tsavorite pockets are commonly found in two separate layers, the lower layer close to the graphite rich marble was reported to be the best one and the upper one located neat the graphite rich gneiss is supposed to be less interesting with many "bogus" pockets.
- The "Ruby Mine Pit", started in 1991 which produced small (low quality) ruby, rhodolite garnet and some small tsavorite including a fine 5 carats beautiful gem.
On October 2007 we were helped by Micheni during our visit to the Tsavo area. We arrived at the mine on October 05 at 1pm, after a visit at the Rockland ruby mining operation. We were welcome by one of Micheni's miners who bring us a porphiroblast he found in the morning mining at the "Sawa Sawa" underground operation. We opened the pocket which was full of green! I could then take this "happy miner" photo with Micheni presenting the stone and in the background the miner who found the stone.
Note: We can see on this photo Micheni wearing a 29 carats ruby cabochon from Mwarema area near Kuranze (77km south of the Tsavolite mine). I found the ruby very attractive with its raw meat aspect: A perfect stone from the man eating lion's land.
I used then the same porphiroblast associated with rough tsavorite and two faceted stones (the largest weighting about 7 carats) to take the following photo which summarize very well tsavorite from the mine to the faceted jewel. Note: All the gems on this photo (porphiroblast, rough tsavorite and faceted gems) were reported by Micheni to have been mined at his mine.
Stones courtesy: Genson Micheni Musa / Tsavolite Co Ltd Photo: V.Pardieu / Gubelin Gem Lab, Oct 2007.
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.