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.


Website Map


Index page: Vincent Pardieu's Blog

About the Author

About me : How did a countryside Frenchman became a "Shameless travel addicted gemologist"? ( Under construction)


Contact the author:


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Fieldgemology Page on facebook

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
"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)

Find our blogs using the following Keywords:

Find our photos using the following Keywords:

Discover fieldgemology newsletter:
(Currently under "hibernation status"...)

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



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

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:




Creative Commons License

The photos and articles on are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Feel free to use the photos and articles with links and credits. No commercial use without permission.
All the best,


An update on Ruby and Sapphire mining
in South East Asia and East Africa.
Summer 2005

Madagascar 2005

By Vincent Pardieu
and Jean Baptiste Senoble

General Presentation: (visit here)

Part 1) Introduction: (visit here)

Part 2) Vietnam: (visit here)

Part 3) Sri Lanka: (visit here)

Part 4) Madagascar:

After landing in Antananarivo on June 03rd ,2005 , we met several friends that helped us prepare for the trip. Then we went to the new ruby mining area in Antsahanandriana, located between Antananarivo and Antsirabe near Ambohimandroso. There, a gem rush has followed the discovery of gem quality rubies and pink sapphires in December 2004. After a short period of inactivity, due to some mining conflicts from January to August 2005, people are currently mining there. The most important mining company is SLM (Societe Latvia Madagascar) a Russian group.

(Left to right: Jean Baptiste Senoble with a Russian miner in Ambohymandroso, ICA Ambassador, Tom Cushman after a good lunch in a local French restaurant in Antananarivo .
Photos: Vincent Pardieu and Jean baptiste Senoble, 2005)

Then after one day driving, we reached Ilakaka and Sakaraha, the very rich and famous gem deposit in the south of the island not far from Toliara (also known as “Tulear”). This area has been the most active mining and trading area on the island since its discovery in 1998. Sapphires from all over Madagascar are traded there. More than 100.000 people are believed to make a living from the gem business in this area. Ilakaka's main street was busy while we were there, but things are getting more difficult as good stones are becoming rarer and people are searching for new deposits. Ilakaka, Sakaraha, and more recently Manombe, are emerging as competitive trading centers with a strong Sri Lankan presence.

(Left to Right: Arriving in Ilakaka; Small scale gem mining in Ilakaka countryside,
Photos: Jean Baptiste Senoble, 2005)

(Left to right:Meeting with Thai buyers in Ilakaka gem market, Ilakaka fancy and blue sapphires. Photo: Vincent Pardieu 2005)

After visiting several small-scale and mechanized mining areas near Ilakaka, we moved to Sakaraha. Then we had a three day hard drive through the nearly desert south to reach Andranondambo. This being a metasomatic blue sapphire mining area near Tolanaro (also formerly known as “ Fort Dauphin ” ) which was the place where the first gem quality sapphires were found in Madagascar in 1994. There SIAM (Societe d'Investissement Australian a Madagascar ), an Australian company, are starting a large scale exploitation. It can be expected that some Andranondambo sapphires could reach the market again within the next months. Besides SIAM , several small scale mines are also present with some Thai, Sri Lankan, and African buyers present in the area.

(Left to Right: On the way to the sapphire mines in Andrnondambo, Preparing the mining camp at SIAM mine.
Photos: Jean Baptiste Senoble, 2005)

We came back from Fort Dauphin to Antananarivo by plane. We had one full day driving east to Vatomandry and its ruby deposit located in the neighboring mountains covered by rain forests. The place became famous after its discovery in late 2000 when it began to produce fine quality basaltic type rubies. After a short period of important activity, the deposit has become much quieter since the gem rush to Andilamena in 2004. Now, we were told, less than fifty miners were working at Tetezampaho, the main deposit. Even so, several Thai buyers were present in the city streets. We decided not to visit Tetezampaho as such a trip would have taken us around four days with a hard walk in the mountainous jungles. Nevertheless, we went to visit several small scale mining operations north of the city.

(Left to Right: A Malagasy miner in his pit in Vatomandry. Details on Vatomandry rubies. Photos: Vincent Pardieu: 2005)

After Vatomandry, we continued our trip by road to Andilamena, a two day drive. This ruby and “polychrome sapphire” deposit also located in the jungle was known in 2000 for rubies but after the discovery of an important new deposit in July 2004, many miners from all over the island have stormed the place and soon the jungle village named Moramanga that has grown from nothing to a 15.000 person muddy village. Now, more than 30.000 people are living mining and trading gems either in Andilamena city or in the jungle nearby. The Andilamena area is as a result the most active and populated ruby and sapphire mining area currently after Ilakaka. The deposit found in July 2004 was mainly producing the locally called “ruby star” material which was the base material for most of the “lead glass filled rubies” we saw at AIGS laboratory in Bangkok after October 2004. In March 2005, a few hundred meters from this deposit, a new ruby deposit was found. We reached the area after one day walking through the rain forest covered mountains. A new mining village was established around 1 km from Moramanga at Tananarivekel. This new deposit looks to be the primary deposit from which stones mined in alluvial deposits (as early as 2000) originate. Now most of Andilamena mining force is working these new rubies and few miners are mining the material for the lead glass treatment.

(Left to Right: Crawling inside a mine tunnel in Andilamena, View on Moramanga jungle mining city,
Photos: Jean Baptiste Senoble, 2005)

(Left to Right: Washing the gem rich ground and the new rubies from Tananarivekel area.
Photos: Vincent Pardieu, 2005)

Finally, after returning to Antananarivo , we had a flight to the blue, green, and yellow basaltic sapphire deposit near Diego Suarez in Ambondromifehy from which sapphires very close to the stones found in other basaltic deposits like Thailand , Cambodia , Laos , and Australia have been produced since 1996. The activity there was quite low; the usual African buyers that used to buy the low quality production from the area are now less present while Thai dealers are strong. As the low quality gems are less easy to sell, the area could face some problems and a decrease in the production.

(Left to Right: A young mother selecting sapphires; Ambondromefehy sapphires,
Photos: Vincent Pardieu, 2005)

Other ruby and sapphire deposits are known in the island but their production is currently very low or does not involve much gem quality material. We decided not to spend time in these areas as our Madagascar scouting trip was just 36 days which is short for such a huge country which is known to have only two good roads! We have nevertheless heard during our trip of very fine quality sapphire coming from Andrebabe (south of Andilamena). Alluvial rubies and sapphires are also found in the mountains covered in deep rain forest east of Andilamena up to Fenoarivo. This area and all the jungle covered eastern mountainous coast especially to the east of Fiananrantsoa host the major hopes for new important deposits to be found. Corundum deposits are also known in the south near Bekily, Ejeda, Betroka, Ikongo, and also in many other areas on the island. A new pink ruby deposit was just found as I write these words near Maevatanana, 300 km north of Antananarivo in the direction of Diego Suarez and possibly a new deposit of dark blue sapphire has been found to the west of Antsirabe. Other sapphire deposits are known in the north in fancy places in the small touristic island of Nosy Be, or between Andapa and Ambilobe. In Madagascar one thing is for sure; Rubies and sapphire will still to be found for years and years…

In Madagascar regarding the stones by themselves, it seems that the market present a lot of challenges for the buyer. Foreign stones from other African countries and possibly other continents are probably mixed with local stones or sold as local gems. Tumbled synthetics are present in all mining areas as well as rough stones dyed with ink. Heated rough that did not react correctly to heat treatment are also present in the markets as well as stones locally heated at low temperatures. The island is also famous for excellent fake crystals but if we heard a lot about such stones we did not actually see any as we focused our trip on rubies and sapphires.

We would like to thank all the companies and private persons that provided us with some help while on this field trip. Especially Mr. Tom Cushman, ICA ambassador to Madagascar for the time he gave to us, SIAM, SLM, SMDA, Hotel “Relais de la reine” near Ilakaka and the local Madagascar authorities for their help and support. We have to say that during our entire trip in the island we never had any problems, were welcomed everywhere and received support from both local people involved in the gem trade as well as from the authorities.

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

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

Visit also our 2006 fieldtrip reports

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. (visit here)


Note: For more information and photos about all these different areas, please visit our photo galleries available from our home page.

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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.