Field Report

On the Trail of Africa’s Hidden Gems with GIA’s Field Gemologists

Seeking Africa’s Hidden Gems
On the trail of Africa’s hidden gems with GIA’s field gemologists

Join GIA’s field gemologists as they trek through the gem mining areas of Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, and Mozambique. This short video reveals the diverse character of colored gemstone mining in East Africa, running the gamut from small-scale artisanal workings to big mechanized mines run by multinational companies.

On one end of the scale, you’ll catch a glimpse of the independent miners’ tough working conditions in Madagascar, Kenya, and Tanzania, and perhaps witness a little of their irrepressible spirit as well. “We come here to give the Devil a hard time,” says Peter, a Kenyan miner laboring in the dust of an underground tunnel. “So we tell him to release the stones now…they don’t belong to him anymore.”

“They all live in darkness until they’re taken out into the light…,” he continues with a smile.

At the other extreme is Zambia’s KAGEM emerald mine, with its heavy machinery and geological surveying, backed by the multinational corporation, Gemfields. “It’s all about economics…your revenue per carat versus cost per carat,” says Gemfields geologist Robert Gessner.

Finally you’ll stop off in Mozambique with the GIA team for a brief visit to the Montepuez ruby mine, another Gemfields operation.

These GIA Field Expeditions (FE39 and FE55) took place in 2012 and 2014 respectively. Along with Vincent Pardieu and cameraman Didier Gruel, expedition participants included GIA gemologist Jonathan Muyal, researcher Boris Chauviré of the Laboratoire de Planétologie et Géodynamique de Nantes, France, and Dr. Gaston Giuliani, Director of Research at the Institute of Research for Development (IRD) in Nancy, France.

GIA staff often visit mines, manufacturers, retailers, and others in the gem and jewelry industry for research purposes and to gain insight into the marketplace. GIA appreciates the access and information provided during these visits. These visits and any resulting articles or publications should not be taken or used as endorsements.