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:


Write Comments:

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

Sri Lanka 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:

We arrived in Sri lanka on May 15, 2005 to meet Armil Samoon, one of our ICA friends on the island. Armil invited us to join the Gemological Association of Australia conference that was scheduled at the same time and was attended by more than two hundred persons. We were very happy to benefit from this occasion to meet Australian and Sri Lankan friends, and attended some very interesting presentations from both Australian and Sri Lankan gemologists and geologists. We were very happy to have been given the opportunity to attend the conference, and for this, we are very grateful to the Gemological Association of Australia and especially the president Peter Gerrard and Grant A Hammid for their warm welcome.

(As we attended the Gemological Association of Australia conference we could met there many ICA friends like Abdul Rahumans, Gamini Zoysa and Ismail M Kamil. Photos: Armil Sammoon, 2005)

Thanks to the permanent support of ICA member Armil Samoon, we were provided an excellent car with driver and reliable information about the many places of interest on the island.

We first went to the Ratnapura area where we could visit several markets and mines. The trading activity in the Newitigala morning market, around forty minutes driving time south of Ratnapura, was quite impressive with about forty cars hosting Thai geuda buyers and more than four hundred local dealers. Ratnapura markets were quieter with less interesting stones but full of people. Unheated gemstones were very difficult to find in the Ratnapura markets. However, stones obviously coming from Madagascar or East Africa (probably Tunduru in Tanzania ) were present and the dealers had no problem telling us that the stones were of “African origin” after sometimes a short discussion. Synthetics, glass, and more surprisingly, heat treated crystals (for which the result was not good enough to be cut and that were proposed as unheated stones) were common. The fact that we were looking like tourists explains probably why all these gemological challenges came to us! It was interesting for us to visit. Besides many traditional pit mines, there was a new operation using machinery just at the entrance of Ratnapura. Globally, the mining activity near Ratnapura was relatively important but altogether he hardly found thirty mining operations mostly using pit mining. Each operation typically involved five to fifty miners. We also went to visit several burners in Ratnapura who were using traditional blow pipe material or much more modern Lakmini furnaces. We were told that around 700 to 1000 or so modern furnaces are now in operation in the island mostly in the Ratnapura and Colombo areas.

(Left to right: Sri Lankan dealers selling “geuda” sapphires to Thais buyers waiting in “dark cars” at Newitigala morning gem market, Jean Baptiste Senoble, coming out from a 20m deep underground mine pit near Ratnapura,
Photos: Vincent Pardieu, 2005)

(Left to right: Traditional “blow pipe” heat treatment of a pink sapphire in Ratnapura;
A new mining operation using some machinery at the entrance of Ratnapura , Sri Lanka.
Photos: Vincent Pardieu, 2005)

(Left to right: Jean Baptiste Senoble visiting an alluvial pit mining operation near Pelmadulla;
Traditional river mining near Ratnapura.
Photos: vincent Pardieu, 2005)

After Ratnapura, we drove east to Okkampitaya. There we could visit several obviously illegal operations in the jungle involving 3 to 20 miners. The mining activity there appeared low but it is difficult to get an idea in one day in such a wild area.

(Left to right: Crossing a stream and then witnessing the washing of the "illam" in a small pond surrounded by the Okkampitaya jungle. Photos: Vincent Pardieu, 2005)

We continued then our trip to Bibile where we visited several small operations including a river mine. We spent a full day witnessing the activity at our friend Deen Anver mine, from geminterest, French gemological forum. It was a good way to rest actively...

(Left to right: Sri lankan gem miner and tour guide Deen Anver ; Before to begin to wash the "illam" at deen mine, the Tamoul miners stated the day with a small religious ceremeony.
Photos: Vincent Pardieu, 2005)

Finally, we arrived in the Elahera area. There, a mechanized mine was in operation. The second mine we saw in Sri Lanka was using some machinery made locally near Kandy. Around 200 local people were mining around the area in paddy fields, or in the surrounding jungle. But as we visited the area during the full moon festival, we were told that there were much fewer people than usuall. On a normal average day, more than 1000 persons were supposed to work there on occasion when agriculture activities did not require all the local labor force. Very surprisingly, even to our local guide, many women were involved in mining, which is never seen in traditional areas like Ratnapura. The production there despite the number of miners did not appear to be high.

(Left to Right: Sri lankan women mining near Elahara, Gem mining in Elahera plain,
Photos: Vincent Pardieu, 2005)

Finally, we went south near Galle to visit the famous moonstone mines in Metiyagoda. There the devastations of the tsunami were still very visible but the moonstone mines located few kilometers inland did not suffer. The production that began here more than fifty years ago was very low. Only two mines are active. The large high quality material with strong blue sheen is now for memories only as the layers producing these stones has been depleted. Currently, a deeper layer producing smaller stones with a more silvery aspect is mined. Some other moonstone mining is occuring in Sri Lanka near Dumbara, close to Kandy. This mine has been producing for more than 100 years and has produced some very fine quality gems, the best stones ever produced in Sri Lanka, we were told, came from this area...

(Left to right: Carved Metiyagoda moonstones, Moonstone mine pit in metiyagoda,
Photos: Vincent Pardieu, 2005)

Globally, after this four month trip, we were surprised to meet more Sri Lankan gemstone buyers in Madagascar (especially in Ilakaka, Manombe and Sakaraha areas) and in Tanzania (especially Tunduru) than in Sri Lanka where the markets looks much less busy, except in Newitigala. But there again, the presence of the Thai buyers waiting in their cars was more visible than Sri Lankan dealers buying gems. However, geologically and gemologically, the sapphires and chrysoberyls from these three countries are very close so it is not that surprising. We could also see that the Sri Lankans have done some very important improvements regarding heat treatment and we witnessed mechanization in gemstone mining is slowly becoming a part of the Sri Lankan mining landscape.

Sri Lanka gemstone industry is changing for sure!

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)

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.

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.