Saturday, 28 December 2019

Sapphires of Didy, Madagascar

Didy is a town in Madagascar. It belongs to the district of Ambatondrazaka, which is a part of Alaotra-Mangoro Region. In late 2011 a new deposit of gem quality sapphire was found there.

The island is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 81 percent of the population living on less than $1.25 a day.
The deposit is 25km south-east of Didy. Reaching the mine takes two days of hard walking from Didy, the closest place reachable by bush taxi. Even getting to Didi is tough. It’s 300km from the capital, and less than a third of that distance is on paved roads.

The last 10 hours of the trek is through rain forest, climbing precipitous hills on boggy paths.

The rubies and sapphires found there do not need to be heat treated.
After falling a tree, locals found transparent blue gemstones. By June 2012 sapphires began sporadically arriving at the capital Antananarivo, brought there by gold miners.

The stones are of exceptional quality. Vivid in color, beautiful clarity and size, the Didy discovery is the most important recent ruby and sapphire discovery in the world.

Madagascar is rich with mineral deposits, but its people remain some of the poorest on earth.
Within days, hundreds of tents and huts rose in the forest. A massive rush ocured before the Malagasy authorities sent a force to expel the miners as the discovery was in Makira Natural Park, an area dedicated to conservation. Sapphires present an irresistible lure of quick riches for locals.
As many as 10,000 miners and precious stone traders from around the world raced to the eastern region to extract the stones and ship them overseas. As well as digging up the forest floor, they cut down trees for firewood and shelter in the hitherto untouched wilderness and hunted resident animals, particularly lemurs, for bushmeat.

Despite the mining being illegal on protected land, the Malagasy government is unable to control it. The government has banned foreigners from the area. Armed gangs are the rule of law and unreported crime is common.

Monday, 9 December 2019

Ant Hill Garnet

Arizona pyrope garnet is called ant hill garnet because ants bring up the smaller crystals from below ground and deposit them in the ant hill when building or remodeling. The ants encounter the garnets while excavating their underground passages, haul them to the surface and discard them.

The rain washes the garnets clean and moves them down the flank of the anthill where they can accumulate in large numbers. This concentrates the little gems and makes them easy for people to collect.

Ant hill garnets occur in a remote section of the Navajo Nation in Arizona. During the 1800's Navajos used the water-worn and rounded ant Hill garnet crystals as bullets.

Ant hill garnets are recognized as possessing the finest bright ruby-red color of the garnet family. The typical anthill garnet is a tiny stone - almost always less than one carat when cut into a cabochon or faceted stone. The ants are smart enough to excavate around larger stones rather than haul them to the surface.

Monday, 2 December 2019

High Jewel Spiders

Chaumet. Jardins spider ring in yellow gold set with diamonds, a yellow sapphire and a green tourmaline.

Lydia Courteille. Spider ring

Gold 10kt White Haimov Damon Tarantula Spider