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 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.
A visit to the new ruby deposit in Winza, Tanzania: (Apr. 15 to Apr. 22, 2008):
"In November 2007, rubies of high quality and pure red to pinkish-red colour were found near the village of Winza, (Mpwapwa district), in the Dodoma region of Tanzania, and quickly attracted attention outside Tanzania - most recently at the BaselWorld show (in April 2008). The superior quality of these rubies and sapphires is characterised by outstanding transparency..." ( text from the
Gübelin Gem Lab Newsletter n22 published on May 05, 2008)
Obviously when such exceptional gems appear in the market for a gemologist specialized on origin determination of gemstones, a visit to the new mining area makes a lot of sense. I decided, with the support of the
Gübelin Gem Lab, I was then working for, to visit this new deposit few days after the end of the BaselWorld show at the end of April 2008. Jean Baptiste Senoble, an enthusiastic young French gemologist and gem lover who used to travel with me in Tanzania in 2005 joined me on this expedition. The purpose of this expedition was to collect first hand data and samples in order to maintain the
Gübelin Gem Lab gemstone reference collection up to date and to collect first hand data about gem mining and trading in Winza for future articles and presentations on these stones.
This specific April 2008 expedition was facilitated by the fact that in August 2005 and October 2007 , the author did two very complete surveys of the gemstone mining areas in Kenya and Tanzania (see following map) with Tanzanian gem broker Abdul Y.Msellem as guide and with the support of Eric Saul (ICA Ambassador to Tanzania) and his brother Mark from Swala Gem Traders in Arusha, which are licensed gem miners and dealers in Tanzania. These expeditions were very useful to collect, of course, additional samples and data from known gem sources but also to build and maintain a strong local network (with Tanzanian gems dealers, brokers, miners, mining officers and technicians) which turned to be very useful and reliable for the Winza case.
A group of Winza ruby and sapphire crystal specimen collected by the author while visiting the Winza gem mining area in 2008 associated with two beautiful faceted rubies seen in Paris.
Gübelin Gem Lab / Van Cleef and Arpels / Piat / Swala Gem Traders, Photo: V. Pardieu, 2008
From April 15 to 22, 2008, with the support of our Tanzanian friends and from the Tanzanian local authorities we succeeded to reach the new mining area where we stayed 3 days at 2 nights in order to witness and document the mining activity. A complete report about our field expedition is currently available on this website:
Now a complete field trip report is available on this website at the following link:
A view over the Winza ruby washing and mining area on the Mtindiri riverbanks and on the Mangalisa mountains.
Photo: V. Pardieu /
Gübelin Gem Lab, 2008
About 2 weeks after the author and Jean Baptiste Senoble visit of the Winza mining area, in May 2008, GIA gemologists: James E. Shigley and Brendan M. Laurs also succeded to visit Winza in order to document the location, the geology, and the mining of the new ruby and sapphire deposit. They were accompanied by gem dealer Dimitri Mantheakis (Ruvu Gemstone Mining Ltd., Dar es Salaam ), who arranged the logistics and helped them to obtain the necessary permissions for that visit, and by several government officials for their security.
After these two expeditions, the
Gübelin Gem Lab, the GIA and other researchers decided to collaborate to produce a common article about " Rubies and Sapphires from Winza, Central Tanzania " by Schwarz D, Saul J.M., Schmetzer K., Laurs B.M., Giuliani G., Klemm L., Malsy A.-K, Erel E., Hauzenberger C., Du Toit G., Fallick A.E., Ohnenstetter D. and Pardieu V. in Gems & Gemology, Vol. 44, No. 4, Winter 2008, pp. 322-347.
Besides the article, some addtional photos taken during the 2 expeditions by the
Gübelin Gem Lab and GIA and some additional inclusion photos of Winza gems are also available on G&G Data Depository on GIA website.
"Abdul M'Sellem and a winza sapphire specimen"
A special thanks to our friend Abdul M'Sellem, an Arusha based Tanzanian gem broker, who was the first to inform the author about the new ruby deposit in Winza at the end of November 2007. Thanks to his support, we were able to have a very succesful expedition in April 2008 and to be the first gemologists to visit that area.
Photo: V. Pardieu /
Gübelin Gem Lab, 2008
Visiting Winza and studying Winza rubies and sapphire was a great gemological adventure for me, it was probably one of the best things I will remember about my two years working as a gemologist specialized on Origin determination of gemstones at the
Gübelin Gem Lab in Lucerne, Switzerland. We had the occasion then to do some great team work under the direction of Dietmar Schwarz in order to provide rapidly to the gemological community a complete article published in GIA's Gems and Gemology magazine about these unusual stones. This adventure was very interesting as the team was not only composed of the gemologists working at the
Gübelin Gem Lab but it was also including many other gemologists and scientists working in different universities or at GIA. It was a pleasure and an honor to collaborate with such a team.
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.