Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Sapphire Mining in Ilakaka-Sakaraha, Madagascar


A parcel of sapphire and chrysoberyl from the Ilakaka-Sakaraha deposit in southern Madagascar.
The Ilakaka-Sakaraha deposit in Madagascar is probably the world’s largest sapphire producer over the past 13 years.

The first discovery was in 1998, near Ilakaka Be. Locals quickly established a thriving market with Thai and Malagasy merchants. Within months, miners from around the island settled near the bridge on the Ilakaka River, and a boomtown was born. Ilakaka is a much quieter place today. Tourists regularly stop there, while Sri Lankan, Thai, and Malagasy gem traders still conduct business.

(click to enlarge)
The deposit extends about 120 km east from Anena to Anakondro, and nearly 100 km north from Anena to Antaralava.
In the Taheza basin the sapphire-rich gravels are usually about 30 meters deep, but some artisanal miners use a 50-meter vertical shaft to reach the gravels, which are mined by digging narrow horizontal tunnels. For the digger to breathe, air has to be sent underground using large plastic bags and tubes. The gravels are extracted and taken to the river for washing.
Overall, mining and trading around Ilakaka is down from previous years. But with 10,000–20,000 miners and several hundred buyers, Ilakaka-Sakaraha probably still surpasses Ratnapura and Elahera in Sri Lanka as the world’s main source for blue and pink sapphires.

From April to July 2012, many of the buyers and miners left Ilakaka to work in the jungle near Didy and Ambatondrazaka, where fine rubies and sapphires were discovered in March 2012.




Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Alrosa uncovers 235 carat diamond

A diamond weighing 235.16 carats has been found in Russia’s Siberian republic of Yakutia, Russia’s biggest diamond miner, Alrosa, said. A company spokesman told the Prime business news agency that the uncut diamond was of gem quality. The diamond is octahedral in shape, transparent, slightly yellowish in color, and bears only slight graphite-sulfide inclusions in peripheral areas.

Alrosa accounts for 97 percent of all diamonds mined in Russia and a quarter of global output. The company’s sales of rough and polished diamonds stood at $4.61 billion last year.
http://en.ria.ru/russia/20131009/184034647/15M-2M-Diamond-Found-in-Siberia.html

Monday, 21 October 2013

Cool Gemstones II

Citrine. Quartz crystal from the La Gardette Mine, Bourg d’Oisans, France.

Quartz : clear quartz crystal from Arkansas. Has intersecting quartz rod giving the appearance of "the Sword in the Stone"
Tanzanite : natural deep blue tanzanite crystal.

Cornetite : deep blue cornetite. From Etoile Mine, Katanga, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Tourmaline on Quartz - Jonas Mine, Brazil.

Fluorite crystal on a matrix of granite. From Piemonte, Italy.
Star Moonstone from Burma

Cat’s Eye Sillimanite from India.
Mozambique ruby, Madagascar blue sapphire, and a Madagascar purple sapphire.



Saturday, 19 October 2013

Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender sets records

Rio Tinto’s 2013 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender has delivered a strong set of results, including records for the most valuable diamonds ever sold from the Argyle diamond mine, the firm reports.

Known as the ‘Red Edition’ with the inclusion of three fancy red diamonds, the 2013 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender collection featured 64 pink, red and blue diamonds, ranging in size from 0.20 carats to 3.02 carats.
Two significant records were broken, with the Argyle Phoenix™, a 1.56-carat fancy red diamond, achieving the highest per carat price for a diamond ever produced from the Argyle mine.

And the Argyle Dauphine™, a 2.51-carat fancy deep pink diamond, broke the record for the highest price paid for an Argyle diamond in overall value terms, and also achieved a world record price for a fancy deep pink diamond.


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(IDEX Online News) – The world’s most exclusive diamond sale, the Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender, is being previewed in Tokyo for the first time in five years. Included in the Tokyo preview are three fancy red diamonds. They include a 1.56-carat round gem, the Argyle Phoenix named in honor of the newly commissioned Argyle underground mine.
The 2013 tender collection is also notable for its unique combination of colors and sizes, Rio Tinto said. For the first time in eight years there is a diamond greater than three carats – the 3.02-carat radiant, fancy intense orangy pink diamond, named the Argyle Imperial.

There is also a 0.71-carat blue heart-shaped diamond, the Argyle Celestial, which is expected to be sold with a matching heart-shaped fancy pink diamond from the collection. Japan remains the largest consumer market for pink diamonds, with the lighter “cherry blossom” shades of pink in strong demand from Japanese jewelry designers, Rio Tinto said. It is also a market for heart shaped diamonds, and the matching pink and blue heart shaped diamonds in the 2013 Tender collection are likely to be strongly contested.
The tender comprises 64 diamonds, including 58 pink diamonds, three fancy red diamonds and three blue diamonds. All 64 diamonds in this year's collection were cut and polished in Western Australia by Rio Tinto's master craftsmen. Bids for the diamonds close on October 2.
http://www.diamonds.net/



Friday, 18 October 2013

More Spanish gold found off Treasure Coast

A family has discovered $300,000-worth of 300-year-old Spanish gold chains and coins during a sea scavenge off the Florida coast. The Schmitt family and a diver, Dale Zeak, found three pounds of thin gold chains, five gold coins and a gold ring just 15 feet below the surface 150 yards off the coast of Fort Pierce this weekend.

The family runs a company named Booty Salvage but this is the biggest loot they've ever found.
Florida will get 20 per cent of the gold and it will be displayed in museums. The rest will then be evenly split between the crew and the company. But Schmitt said he's happy with whatever they earn from the stash.

'I'm happy as hell to find it,' he said. 'I don't care if I got one per cent of it. Finding it is 90 per cent of it for me.'


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2410051/Florida-family-finds-gold-Treasure-hunters-discover-300k-300-year-old-Spanish-gold.html

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48 gold coins from the 1715 treasure fleet have been discovered off the Florida coast.

Brent Brisben, who owns the shipwreck salvage company 1715 Fleet – Queens Jewels LLC, discovered the coins with a four-member crew as part of his excavation quest Saturday. A half hour into their quest, the crew was only 100 feet away from the shore when they discovered the coins.

Brisben is estimating the value of the coins at $250,000, but says his archaeologist has to come in and provide the full value. He estimated that each coin is worth $4,000 to $5,000. The oldest one dates back to 1697, and the newest one 1714, he said.

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/07/treasure-hunters-find-gold-coin-trove-off-florida/
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On July 31, 1715 eleven of the twelve Spanish ships sailing from Havana to Spain with royal treasure were wrecked by a violent hurricane on the east coast of Florida from St. Lucie to Cape Canaveral.

Seven of these Spanish Treasure laden ships were scattered over the reefs from south of Fort Pierce to the Sebastian Inlet. Spanish coins of all types (gold and silver) started to be found on the beaches in the 1950s after strong nor'easters or a violent hurricane. This part of Florida's Atlantic east coast quickly became known as the Treasure Coast.
The (El Senor) San Miguel - was a 22 gun NAO Class(Fast Carrack). It very likely contained a significant portion of the treasure. It is believed the ship separated from the fleet the day before the storm struck and the wreck has never been found.

It is believed only a small fraction of the treasure of the lost 1715 Treasure Fleet has been recovered.
1715 Fleet ships believed to have been found are:

1 - Nuestra Senora de la Regla
2 - Santo Cristo de San Roman
3 - Nuestra Senora del Carmen
4 - Nuestra Señora de La Popa
5 - Nuestra Senora del Rosario
6 - Urca de Lima
7 - Nuestra Senora de las Nieves
- Ships of the 1715 Fleet never located are the:

8 - Maria Galante
9 - El Senor San Miguel
10 - El Cievro
11 - Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion

12 - Griffon made it safely and went on to France



VERO BEACH — Bonnie Schubert couldn’t believe her eyes when, about 1,000 feet off Frederick Douglass Beach near Fort Pierce, she came face to face with a solid gold statue of a bird that had lain under the Atlantic Ocean exactly 295 years and 15 days.

“I remember asking myself, ‘Is this real?’” Schubert recalled Wednesday as the 5.5-inch-tall statue she found Aug. 15 was revealed to the public at her home in the Vero Shores neighborhood of Vero Beach.“The Bird,” as it’s come to be known, is real all right.

So is it’s $885,000 appraised value.

The statue was aboard one of 11 Spanish ships laden with treasures from the New World that were bound from Havana to the court of King Phillip V before encountering a hurricane July 31, 1715, and sinking off the Treasure Coast.



Saturday, 5 October 2013

Myanmar’s Mogok Stone Tract.

When it comes to ruby and sapphire, there is no place more famous than Myanmar’s Mogok Stone Tract.

Off-limits to foreigners for more than 40 of the past 50 years, the door has once again opened a crack.
Mogok and other villages nearby have been famous since ancient times for its gemstones, especially ruby and sapphire, but semi-precious stones such as lapis lazuli, garnet, moonstone, peridot and chrysoberyl are also found. The gems are found in alluvial marble gravels by means of panning, tunneling and digging pits by hand. The gravels derive from the metamorphosed limestones (marbles) of the Mogok metamorphic belt.
Gems are sold in markets in Mogok; however, foreigners require special permits to visit the town, and purchase/export of gems from Myanmar at non-government licensed dealers is illegal.

90% of the world's rubies come from Myanmar. The red stones from there are prized for their purity and hue. The "Valley of Rubies", the mountainous Mogok area, 200 km (120 mi) north of Mandalay, is noted for its rare pigeon's blood rubies and blue sapphires.

Workers setting dynamite charges at Burma’s Sagyin ruby mines, July 2013. Note the clay band in the marble. It is thought that this clay provided the alumina necessary for the formation of ruby and spinel.