The island state of Madagascar lies only 400 kilometres away from the African coast. On it, humans have resided for only the last two millennia and its vegetation and wildlife have developed in a singular way apart from the evolution on the continent the island once broke away from. Over the last few decades, the gemstone industry on this erstwhile French colony has grown strongly and today, magnificent sapphires, rubies and other precious stones are unearthed from the ground of this beautiful island.
Until the 1990ies, Madagascan gemstones, especially sapphires, were rarely heard of. In the years since the discovery of curious coloured stones and subsequent gold-rush like development of mining all over the country, Madagascar had become the world’s leading source of sapphires. The boom was so great that it was felt heavily at places as far away as Tanzania where gemstone traders left the area to buy the new material found on the island in the Indian Ocean, leaving the Tanzanian gemstone trade with dramatically less demand for their product.
Mining in Madagascar is traditionally done on a small scale, mostly by artisanal means. In the last few years however, large scale, corporate mining has developed a stronger presence in Madagascar as well. Other than sapphires, precious stones like rubies, emeralds, aquamarines, tourmalines, amethysts and many more can be found in often remote locations. Towns of tens of thousands of people emerge within a few years around newly discovered deposits and are inhabited until the deposit runs dry. Afterwards, many of the miners relocate to find other deposits on their hunt for the precious gifts from mother earth.About the Ruby
The highest quality sapphires from the mines of Mogok are usually described by the Gübelin Gem Lab as "royal blue", a term used for extraordinary stones that are of a luscious, deep blue colour and fit strictly defined criteria concerning clarity, hue and saturation. Compared to rubies, Burmese sapphires also have a tendency to occur in larger sizes, which makes them highly sought after.
Geologically, Burmese sapphires and, indeed, rubies are considered to be much younger than many of their counterparts from locations like Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar and Sri Lanka. In the mines of Mogok, sapphires are unearthed in various shades of blue but purple, violet and yellow stones can also be found.
Experience the unique colour and extraordinary gleam of the legendary Burmese ruby in some of Gübelin's most precious jewellery creationsAbout the Sapphire
The Mogok region in the centre of the country is by no means the only one where rubies and sapphires have been found in Burma. However, it has proven the only one whose yield was large enough to make it commercially viable. Besides rubies and sapphires, other gemstones like spinels, garnets, tourmalines, peridots and aquamarines are found and successfully unearthed. After mining, these treasures are collected, sorted and sold in several larger and smaller gem markets in the city of Mogok and smaller villages in the vicinity from where many make their way down to the large scale auctions in the southern city of Yangon. Afterwards, they continue their journey to become part of breath-taking jewellery that will, hopefully, delight their future owners for many decades to come.
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