Bridges Family and Tsavorite Update


Bruce Bridges
Bridges Tsavorite

Bruce Bridges
Bridges Tsavorite
Interview with Bruce Bridges, Bridges Tsavorite
There are moments in GIA’s compelling interview with Bruce Bridges that the son of legendary gem pioneer Campbell Bridges speaks optimistically about finally getting some justice in the brutal killing of his father in August 2009.  Eight suspects, who were named, photographed and eye-witnessed at the time of the crime, were arrested almost immediately. Yet the case has dragged on for more than three years, not only leaving the Bridges family in torment, but the Kenyan mining economy in a state of suspended animation.

Bridges reflects on his father’s life and work, which led him from his native Scotland to Africa, where he made his mark in the gem world with the discovery of tsavorite. For all the fame the discovery brought him, it seemed cursed from the start. His first discovery in Tanzania in 1969 went nowhere when the country refused to grant him a mining permit. His second discovery in Kenya in 1971 demanded eternal vigilance from poachers, thus giving his mine the name Scorpion after the poisonous creatures he would leave to guard it. Ultimately tsavorite led to his death at the hands of thuggish competitors.

In the interview Bridges also talks about the finer points of tsavorite—its shape and color—and describes the grading system used. He also discusses their use of master stones in grading and gives insight into tsavorite quality.

A truly special treat in the following video is the first-time unveiling of a brilliant umbalite specimen with tremendous sentimental value. When they were cleaning out his father’s belongings, Bruce tells us, they came upon a camera film canister labeled “2 pcs rgh.”  When they opened it, they found the umbalite rough. They had it cut and polished and here it’s on full display before our GIA camera.

Mr. Bridges grew up in the colored gemstone market, working with his famous father Campbell Bridges at the prolific tsavorite-producing Scorpion Mine near Tsavo Park in Kenya. Mr. Bridges discusses the history of tsavorite mining, current production, and tsavorite qualities, as well as the assassination of his father and the current legal situation.