Category: Documentary

Gems of the Living World

Niassa Lion Project is working alongside the Niassa Reserve and Mozambican Government to create harmony between the wildlife and people living within a vast area of wilderness. They fae a number of serious challenges to protect the safety of the carnivores and the purity of the rivers while cultivating a mentality of conservation among the local people.

All mining inside the reserve is illegal. In the area run by Niassa Lion Project there is unlicensed gold mining activity. In the processing of the gold these miners are often found to be using toxic chemicals.

Vincent Pardieu is encouraging the jewellery industry to support conservation projects such as Niassa Lion Project



An Update of Colored Gemstone Mining in Tanzania

This film was made to accompany the article “An Update On Coloured Gemstone Mining in Tanzania, ” written by Vincent Pardieu and Wim Vertriest and first published by “Gems & Gemology” following a GIA field expedition to Tanzania in July 2016. The field expedition set out to collect samples of ruby, sapphire and spinel for the GIA reference collection as well as gather information about the current mining activity there.

This field expedition was made thanks to Vincent Pardieu, Gemological Institute of America, Chris Hood of Metal Urges, Tasmania, Mark Saul of Swala Gems and our guide and gem broker Justin Mmbaga. Thanks also to team members Wim Vertriest, (geologist and gemologist) Floriane Duret (geologist and gemologist) and Marie Lemoux….and to the people of Tanzania who welcomed us so warmly.

Three Ruby Mining Operations in Montepuez, Mozambique

On a field expedition to the ruby mining area around Montepuez, we heard about Gemfield’s  at ambitious project to farm chickens neat Montepuez Ruby Mine in partnership with a local women’s association. We were also able to see two newer projects: Mustang’s Montepuez Ruby Project and exploration pits at Metals of Africa’s concession as well as visit areas where garimpeiros (unlicensed miners) were digging. Gem quality ruby now being found at these newer sites indicates that the boundaries of this large deposit are yet to be established.

This film is published with thanks to Vincent Pardieu, GIA and our generous hosts at Montepuez Ruby Mine, Gemfields and Montepuez Ruby Project at Mustang as well as Mr Constantine at Metals of Africa. Thank you also to our team members, Wim Vertriest, (GIA), Floriane Duret (geologist and gemologist) and Marie Lemoux (gemologist). This films was made by Rosey Perkins (gemologist).

Visit to Sapphire Rush East of Ambatondrazaka, Madagascar.

“A sapphire rush escalating to approximately 45000 miners has occurred in the Eastern Madagascan rainforest. On 23rd October I gained access from the nearby town Ambatrondrazaka, where I had been shown large sapphires of varied colours by foreign traders. I left the town by motorbike for a nearby village called Ansevabe. It was then a 11 hour walk to the mine site into an area which is in theory protected for conservation. We walked alongside miners and women carrying supplies and food to sell to the miners.

The valley opened to reveal a clearing in which people were building make-shift tents, feeding fires and digging. They collected potentially gem rich earth which they sieved to wash the dirt away and reveal the gravel in which they hoped to see gems. Stones were often large, and traders often took up place on the side of the hill so they could easily spot success. I was in the tents of some traders when they were approached by miners with some sapphires.

Some miners were professional and had travelled across the country to reach the mine site, others local making the most of the opportunity to earn some extra income. They worked together in teams of 4-5, digging several meters to shift the surface soil on order to reach the gem bearing layers further down. The Gendarme were present to oversee the area and keep peace, with such a large gathering, they could do nothing more.

It would be a blessing for the Malagasy gem industry and the local people if the area was not protected but in reality, that region East of Ambatondrazaka is part of a biodiversity conservation corridor, which is vital for the rare and endangered species living there.

It’s a difficult situation in which the interests of the wildlife and local people, the demand for gems compete. In this case, the gendarme have started controlling foreign buyers while also monitoring the mining activity.”

For Full report: Sapphire Rush East of Ambatondrazka, October 2016

Related Articles:

Boehm E. 2013. Colored Gemstone Ethical Fair Trade & Sustainability. Chubb Collectors Newsletter.

Cook, R., Healy, T., (2012) “Madagascar Case study: Artisanal mining rushes in protected areas and a response toolkit”, Estelle Levin and WWF,

Filou E. (15/11/2015) A Million Artisanal Gold Miners in Madagascar Wait To Come Out Of The Shadows The Guardian.

Pardieu, V., (2012) “Ruby and sapphire rush near Didy, Madagascar (April-June 2012)”,

Pardieu et al., (2014) “Rubies from a new deposit in Zahamena National Park, Madagascar”, Gems & Gemology, Winter 2015, Vol 51, No 4.,

Rakotondrazafy & al. (2008). “Gem Corundum Deposits of Madagascar: A Review.” Ore Geology Reviews (34): 134-154.

Walsh, A., (2012) “Made In Madagascar: Sapphires, Ecotourism and the Global Bazaar.” University of Toronto Press.