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.

 


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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
www.ruby-sapphire.com
"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)

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

 



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about gems, gemology, field expeditions, studying gemology, minerals, jade, pearls or jewelry?
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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:

emeralds


 


 


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The photos and articles on fieldgemology.org are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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From Kashmir to Pamir,

Summer 2006: Gemmological expedition report
to Ruby, Emerald and Spinel mining areas in Central Asia.



Part 4: China (Xin Jiang):
Emeralds from the silk road.



By Vincent Pardieu
and Guillaume Soubiraa
(Published on Sept 2006, last modified Mar 2008)

 

Introduction: Presentation of the AIGS, Gubelin Gem Lab, ICA 2006 fieldtrip to Central Asia: (visit here)

Part 1: Pakistan: The Central Asian capital of the gemstone trade. (visit here)

Part 2: Afghanistan: Land of beautiful gems and unique people. (visit here)

Part 3: Tajikistan: Gems from the Pamirs. (visit here)

Part 4: China (Xin Jiang): Emeralds from the silk road(current page)

Introduction: This web page presents the gemological expedition lead in August 2006 by Vincent Pardieu (then director of the AIGS Gemological Laboratory) to new emerald mines in Xin Jiang western province of China. This fieldtrip was part of the larger expedition supported by AIGS and Gubelin gemological laboratories with the help of ICA to the Central Asia with purpose to visit ruby, spinel and emerald deposits. Vincent Pardieu was seconded by Guillaume Soubiraa, a Madagascar based French gemologist, who studied gemology at AIGS Bangkok in 2006.
The Davdar emerald mining was first reported in the litterature by Dudley Blauwet in Gems and Gemology (Spring 2005, p 56-57) and three stones were studied by Elizabteh P.Quinn at GIA but Dudley Blauwet was not able to visit the deposit.
We Arrived in Xin Jiang by plane from Islamabad (Pakistan), visited Kashgar and took the Karakoram highway south to Tashkurgan in order to visit the new emerald deposit in Davdar where emeralds were first found in 2000. Until 2005 when the origin of the new material was discloded, Davdar production, mostly illegal, was reported to us to have been traded through Peshawar and Dubai. We were probably the first gemologists to reach these new mines on August 01, 2006. After one full day visiting the mining area, we left China taking the Karakoram highway south to Pakistan through the famous Kunjerab pass (4733 meters altitude) which is the world higherst border crossing. After a short stop in Sost we reached Gilgit late at night.
 

We invite you to follow step by step our fieldtrip from Kashgar, the capital of Chinese Xin Jiang province to the emerald mines in Davdar and finaly Sost in Pakistan on the other side of the Kunjerab pass using the wonderful potential given by the free software Google Earth. Just download and install Google Earth and use this powerful tool to follow our expedition and prepare yours.

Once Google Earth installed on your computer, you can now follow our expeditions downloading the placemarks we prepared after our fieldtrips.
Just download our placemarks clicking on the icon on the left to follow our Expedition to the Davdar Emerald mines, Xin Jiang, China. You can also get all our placemarks regarding China with many data from the gemological litterature.

We arrived in Kashgar, China from Islamabad on July 29th 2006.
As we had some time in the afternoon, we went downtown to visit the old city which was an important trading center on the silk road.
We went to visit an area in the old town which is famous to host some jewellers and some stone dealers.
We saw there many jade and jade like stones and some naturally carved or polished rocks which are appreciated by chinese.
In one shop we were presented two small rubies still attached to their white marble matrix and were associated with some pyrite. We were told that these stones were mined near Tashkurgan the most important city between Kashgar and the Pakistani border. It was interesting as Tashkurgan is close to the Tajik border where the Murgap ruby mines are located. It sounds then possible that the ruby rich area in Tajikistan extend on the Chinese side of the border.
On july 30th 2006, we started the day with a visit to the after famous Kashgar Sunday market where everything is found from vegetables, handicraft, gemstones to animals and clothes.
We took then the road to Tashkurgan. The landscape was here again pure beauty with mountains more than 7000 meters like here Mt Muztag Ata (7546m) and small Tajik and Kirghiz villages here and there.
On the way we had the possibility to stop near some viewpoints were some local dealers were selling stones to tourists. It was interesting to see there some rubies and emeralds in matrix.
They had also numerous fluorite and garnet crystals.
The fluorite crystals were beautiful but very unusual as we saw there only 3 pieces which were very similar in shape and quality except that their color was completly different: One was bright yellow, another purplish violet while the last one was light green...
If we had some serious doubts about the origin of the color it was nevertheless an interesting stop!
The purple fluorite crystal.
And the green one....
We then arrived in Tashkurgan, famous for its old stone forteress from the time of Ptolemeus (around 300 BC).
The current stone forteress is in fact the ruins of a castle build during the XIV century when Tashkurgan was an important city on the silk road.
The forteress dominate a beautiful swampy plain covered with white yurts.
A kind of "Yurtistan" would say some old friends...
July 31st was spend waiting at the Tashkurgan police station in order to get the special permit necessary to reach Davdar, the small Tajik village were the emerald mining is taking place. The difficulty is that the Chinese imigration check point for people leaving to Pakistan or coming from Pakistan is located in Tashkurgan. It means that the emerald mining area is located in China but in the 200 km wide "No man’s land" between the Pakistani and Chinese immigration posts.
We had to get the permission to reach the mine to get an invitation letter from the Beijing company which officially own the mining rights. It took us several hours to contact and obtain this paper by fax but we were succesful as our local guide was the translator between the Beijing owner and her Pakistani partner.
Note: For a better understanding. Our local guide: Abdur Rahman, was for a while the translator between the chinese and the Pakistani partners in this join venture as he can speak Uighur, Chinese and Urdu. Thanks to him our trip to China turned to a real success.
In order not to loose time we went to visit the jewelry shops in Tashkurgan and found some people selling interesting emeralds from Davdar.

Here is a Google Earth view on which you can discover the emerald mining area near the Davdar village on the Karakoram Highway near the Chinese-Pakistani border at the Kunjerab pass. To visit the mining area you can also "fly" directly to Davdar using Our Davdar Google Earth placemarks.


On August 1st 2006, we finally left to Davdar.
After 1hour and half driving we arrived to this small Tajik village along the Karakoram highway.
From there we turned left and drived 2 km to reach the emerald mining area.
The mining area is clearly visible from the road to an experimented eye when the weather is friendly meaning not dusty or misty. Here on the right we can see from the mines, the green valley where the Karakoram highway is located.
Emeralds were first found in the Davdar area in early 2000 as some rough arrived in Shenzen China to be sold to a company working with aquamarine. It took one year to the Shenzen company to find the area where this rough emerald was mined following a 19 people chain through China.
Then as it became locally known that these green stone had some value some illegal mining slowly started until this new emerald locality to be announced last year in 2005. From 2001 to 2005 most of the rough was sold through Peshawar in Pakistan as Panjshir, or Pakistani emeralds most of the time.
Currently the Davdar mining area is divided into 3 parts. Two of these parts are currently mined by a chinese company from Shenzen and its Hong Kong partner under the name of “Junling mine” while the other one was mined in 2005 by some Peshawar people in agreement with miss Ji, the Beijing based mining licence owner.
This is the area I'm looking at on the photo on the right. There you can note that the rock in which the emeralds are mined in dark while on the other area it is lighter color.

Here is a short movie I took showing Guillaume Soubiraa and the Davdar emerald mining area, near Tashkurgan. It is a 360 degree panoramic view that show well this mining area located at 3721'03"N 7525'27"E, 3660 meters altitude just 2 kilometers away from the major communication axis known as the Karakoram highway linking Kashgar in China to Islamabad in Pakistan. You can see the Karakoram highway in the green valley near the hills where the mines are located.



We started our visit by the area which is owned by Miss Ji from the Pakistan-Chinese join venture. There currently no mining is performed and it is said that several tons of rough material are kept under locks in a guest house room in Tashkurgan.
From the Pakistani-Chinese join venture camp where we stopped our car, we were able in this mining area which is one kilometer long and 700 meters wide to visit several mining spots.
There were 2 main mining open pits in the Pakistani Chinese join venture: The first one is located at 37° 21 05N, 75° 25 44E, 3619m altitude just near the camp. In this first area emeralds were told us to be lower quality generally speaking compared to the second area.
A sample of emeralds in quartz matrix found in this first area.
The second area is located 37° 21 38N, 75° 25 39E, 3669m altitude. It is here again an open pit. Emeralds are there found in hydrothermal veins intruding through some yellowish rocks.
We were here again able to collect some low quality samples from the mining pit in order to study this emrald deposit.
After visiting the first mine we drived to visit the Junling mining camp.
There we were lucky to meet the mine owners Mme Wang Guimin and her son Alex Chang who invited us to go to visit the mining pit where their Hong Kong partner was witnessing the mining work.
Mr Alex Chang give me some information about the history of the minign in Davdar.
At the mining pit were 20 Tajik people from the Davdar village were working. The mine is located at 37° 20 98N, 75° 25 85E, 3673m altitude. Mining is performed there all the year.
The mine in the Junling company is much more advanced compared to Miss Ji area as more ground has been moved. It is the result of a 5 million Yuan investment.
Mining tools were very basic but the mine owner told us that a mining consultant from USA was schedule to come to visit the mine in September.
The owner told us that they just completed the paper work to get the licence for the second area they have in July 2006. The process was told to be very difficult as the mine are located in a border area and they had to collect 14 different licences from different administrations before to be able to officially start mining. But they were already able to get some fine stones.
Here is the report that was performed about the emerald which was bring to the company in Shenzen and was at the origin of the discovery of the mining area.
The report was printed in august 2002 from a local gemological laboratory in Xin Jiang province of western China.


A short study about Emeralds from Davdar, Xin Jiang, China:

The material for this study were cut and rough emerald obtained in Davdar and Tashkurgan (China), Mingora and Peshawar (Pakistan) and Dubai (United Arab Emirates).
First of all compared to emerald from the Panshir valley in Afghanistan, Davdar emeralds are less transparent and tend to present more inclusions than stones from Panjshir which is visible on the following photo presenting 8 Emeralds from Davdar on the upper part and 7 emerald from different mining areas in Panjshir valley on the lower part. In Peshawar and Mingora gem markets during our visits in June and August 2006, emerald from Davdar were availble in both low cabochon quality and facet quality, the best stones were told to be exported to Dubai. Fine clean stones were known in local gem markets in size usualy larget than what is commonly availble from the Panjshir mines in Afghanistan. Fine stones over 20 carats were reported in Peshawar market and we could see several opaque to translucent crystals up to 200 carats. If currently the production in Davdar is still not comparable to the amount produced in other mining areas, these emeralds represent an interesting potential for the region.

Other interesting samples of Emeralds from Davdar, Xin Jiang, China
Another example of the basic difference between five emeralds from Davdar (China) and some emeralds from Panjshir (Afghanistan) from parcels seen in Namak mandi gem market in Peshawar (Pakistan). If the chinese emeralds are more evenly colored, they are less transparent.
Some rough emeralds presented as Chinese stones Davdar seen at Mingora gem market in Swat Province of Pakistan. (Stones from 1 to 10 carats approximatively )
Here again the material lack transparency to be really gem quality.
The local emerald dealers from Peshawar or the Swat province were told us to visit regularly Tashkurgan in China to buy emeralds.
A large well developped emerald crystal specimen (about 50 carats) from Davdar, China.
If globaly the emeralds from Davdar are less transparent than those from Panjshir, we were nevertheless able to see some very fine and transparent specimens like this fine emerald crystal of approximatively 15 carats still attached to its matrix.
A view on a fine parcel of emeralds from the Davdar deposit seen in a Pakistan Gem market.
The stones were about 0,5 to about 2 carats in size. They were displaying an attractive green. Some of the stones used in the following study were selected from this parcel.

Brief gemological properties of Emeralds from Davdar, Xin Jiang, China:

Color: Green to Bluish Green
Refractive Index:
1,578 to 1,584 and 1,585 to 1,593
Birefringence: 0,007 to 0,009
Specific Gravity: 2,68 to 2,74 (measured on small samples hosting some large inclusions...)
Dichroism: Moderate: Yellowish Green and Bluish Green.
Optic Sign: Uniaxial Negative
Chealsea Filter: two stones on ten had a red reaction, others were inert to brownish.
SWUV: brownish to red.
LWUV: Inert to brownish.
Origin of Color: Cr mainly but the stones studied contain also vanadium and iron.
Inclusions: All the 10 stones studied were presenting some multiphase phases inclusions (three phases minimum) but the shape of these inclusions was different from the well known "jagged" design seen in many emeralds from Colombia and some emeralds from Panjshir valley. Several emeralds had also some whitish transparent crystals as inclusions. These multiphase inclusions are interesting as if they looks quite similar to those of the Afghan deposit in Panjshir valley, they were not found in other Chinese emerald deposits like the Malipo emerald mines in Yunnan. Emeralds from Malipo were to the best I currently know from the litterature reported to contain only 2 phases inclusions (liquid and gas).



Special Thanks: We would like to thanks particularly here Mr. Abdur Rhaman, our Guide in China, our friends Parvez and Kadir from Peshawar and the Davdar mine owners: Mme. Wang Guiming and Mr. Alex Chang from the Junling mine and Ms Ji for their help. Finaly we would like to thanks also the Chinese authorities for their help and all the Chinese and Tajik people we met for their welcome.
And also:
- Guy Clutterbuck and Richard Hughes for their support and friendship.
- ICA president Joe Menzie, ICA Vice president Jean Claude Michelou, ICA director Barbara Litapanlop, and of course Henry Ho, the AIGS Gemological Laboratory in Bangkok, Thailand and the Gubelin Gem Lab in Luzern, Switzerland for their constant financial support.

Recommended references about Davdar Emeralds:
Dudley Blauwet, Elizabeth P.Quinn, Sam Muhlmeister: Gems and Gemology, Spring 2005, p 57-58

References and links about other emerald deposits in China:
"Yunnan Gemstones" by Shize Wu: Not realy up to date regarding emeralds but interesting well documented link.
"Smaragde aus China" by U.Henn und C.C.Milisenda, Z.Dt.Gemmol.Ges. 46/2, 1997
"Formational conditions for the Dyakou emerald occurence, Southeastern Yunnan, China" by G.Xue, D.Marshall
"Regional Geologic mapping report for Malipo and Dulong sheet at 1:50,000" M.G.Feng (1998)

Interesting links, ressources and references about gemstones from China:
"The ICA 2006 World Colored Stone Mining Report" ICA InColor publication, Spring 2006 Issue
"World mining report" from Colored Stone Magazine, Nov Dec 2005
China sapphire.com: A Shandong Based sapphire miner website
"A Bull in China" by Chen Nan Yang: An interesting survey of Chinese gems and jewelry market.
"Larsons in China" Interesting presentation abstracts from Bill and Will Larson in 2006.
"Fieldtrip to Western Himalayan Ruby and Emerald Mines" On Gubelin Gem Lab website.
Hong Kong Institute of Gemology: Hong Kong based gemological institute.
Faculty of Materitals and Metallurgical Engineering, in Kunming Yunnan.
China Mining.org. Interesting website about mining in China
Friends of Jade: A great ressource about Jade
Jewelry Net Asia: Hong Kong based portal, home of Jewelry News Asia, a leading Asian trade magazine.
Things Asian: Experience Asia through the eyes of travelers. I love it...

"Sapphires from Changle in Shandong Province, China": by J.Guo, F.Wang, G.Yakoumelos, Gems and Gemology, Winter 1992 p255-260.
"Oxidation treatment of the sapphires from Shandong province, China": By W.Chuanfu, Y.Yaoshan, L.Guoxun, Journal of Gemmology , 1992, 23,3
"Chinese ruby and Sapphire-A brief history": By O.Galibert, R.Hughes, Journal of Gemmology 1995,24,7
"Colored stone update from China", Gems and Gemology, Summer 1989, p111-112
"Spinel from southern China", Gems and Gemology, Winter 2005, p357

Recommended Books about emeralds:
"L'emeraude" by the "Association Francaise de Gemmologie" in association with the the CNRS and ORSTOM (In French) from infrared spectroscopy to geology, history, mining and treatment, it is probably the most complete work available in the market. Written as a series of papers by leading experts in the domain. Highly recommended.
"Emeralds of the world" Extra Lapis No 2: The legendary green Beryl: With beautiful photos, it is a very complete work very up to date with much details about each known deposits and great chapters also about gemology, treatments and famous gems. A must for everybody willing to learn more about emeralds.
"Emeralds and other beryls" by John Sinkankas. Written at the start of the 1980's it does not tell about emerald from China. This old book is nevertheless very interesting for people appreciating old style books. This book is a great complement to newer books on the subject. Difficult to find but still one of my favorites...
Recommended Books about rubies and sapphires:
"Ruby and Sapphire" by Richard W.Hughes. Well no real need to present the current "bible" about rubies and sapphires. My favorite book on the subject and the book responsible for my desire to become a gemologist. An interesting chapter covers rubies and sapphires from China...

 

Introduction: Presentation of the AIGS, Gubelin Gem Lab, ICA 2006 fieldtrip to Central Asia: (visit here)

Part 1: Pakistan: The Central Asian capital of the gemstone trade. (visit here)

Part 2: Afghanistan: Land of beautiful gems and unique people. (visit here)

Part 3: Tajikistan: Gems from the Pamirs. (visit here)

Part 4: China (Xin Jiang): Emeralds from the silk road(current page)

You can also visit our 2005 fieldtrip reports:

Part 1: Introduction: Fieldtrips to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Burma (visit here)

Part 2: Report about Vietnam (April - May 2005) (visit here)

Part 3: Report about Sri Lanka (May 2005) (visit here)

Part 4: Report about Madagascar (June- July 2005) (visit here)

Part 5: Report about Kenya (July 2005) (visit here)

Part 6: Report about Tanzania (August 2005) (visit here)

 

To translate this page into your language: click on your language flag on the Babel fish icon
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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.