AZGem Gems
June, 2004
The World's Most Useful
Gem & Jewelry Monthly Newsletter

Written by Carolyn Doyle for customers of
The Dorado Company
and other visitors to the website who subscribe.


Share this newsletter with friends and co-workers by printing or forwarding it to them in its entirety.


Sign up for a free subscription to the AZGem Gems monthly newsletter.


Back issues of the AZGem Gems newsletter can be accessed by clicking here.

To enquire about gems or jewelry...



Usable Gems... and a little opinion.


Gem Origins - Madagascar

Gem origins - Madagascar has a far away, exotic sound to it. And it should!

Madagascar is a large island located off southeast Africa in the Indian Ocean. The native people are known as the Malagasy.

For a general description of the country, I'll quote from the website of the Embassy of Madagascar...

"Larger than California and Oregon combined, Madagascar is the world's fourth largest island, after Greenland, New Guinea and Borneo. Located 250 miles off the south-east coast of Africa, the island extends 1,000 miles in length and 360 miles at its largest width.

The island can be divided into three main parts: the East Coast, a narrow coastal strip abutting the steep slopes of the North-South mountain range, home of the rain forest; the Central Highlands, averaging 2500 to 4500 feet in altitude and culminating at 9430 feet, decorated with immense rice fields; and the West Coast, home of the baobabs and thorny forest. Coral reefs fringe a portion of the coast. Most plants and animals found in Madagascar exist only there.

Thirteen million Malagasy inhabit Madagascar. Exactly how and when the early Malagasy discovered and settled the island is not known. They have a dual Indonesian and African origin, attested by their physical features, language, agricultural practices, and customs. In spite of their diversity, they are united by a common language, rooted in the ancient Malayo-Polynesian, ancestor of the tongues spoken in the vast area bounded by Hawaii, the Tuamotu and Madagascar. The modern language has been enriched by words imported from Bantu tongues, Swahili, Arabic, English and French."

The official language is Malagasy. Many residents also speak French, but relatively few speak English.

Madagascar was a French colony from 1896 until regaining independence in 1960.

Gems were first discovered here in ancient times, but this tropical island wasn't a player in the gem world  until the early 1990's. That's when a couple of rather large deposits of high quality blue sapphire were located.

That sparked interest from gem traders around the world. Buyers from the world's gem cutting centers of Thailand, India, Sri Lanka soon established buying offices in Madagascar.

When the local residents saw there was good money to be made, they started looking for more deposits. 

Since then many deposits of sapphire, ruby, and other gemstones have been discovered. These discoveries, in turn, have attracted mining investments from American and European gem dealers.

Gem mining in Madagascar has now become a significant industry. It is significant to Madagascar's economy and to the world's gem supply.

Some traders believe Madagascar holds more gem riches than any country on earth.

I haven't been to Madagascar, but I'm told by other gem traders who go there that it's a true tropical island.

I'm also told that when you climb into the higher elevations inland, the climate is somewhat similar to that of North Carolina. (That dealer must live in North Carolina)

I'm also informed that much of the island is rain forest and farmland, but there are near-desert regions in the south.

This island nation seems to yield gemstones from all regions. Near the coast, on the highland plateaus, on the mountainsides, from the forests, and out of the arid zones come an impressive array of gems.

The challenges to gem production here are also formidable. There is little in the way of infrastructure in Madagascar. Roads, electricity, and travel accommodations are very much lacking.

There are also significant conflicts between the mining practices of local independent miners and those concerned with minimizing damage to the unique environment

Some gem deposits require hard rock mining techniques. For example, where blue sapphire crystals were formed within a hill of solid marble.

Other gem deposits are alluvial, where the gem's host rock has weathered and crumbled into gravel. When this occurs, the gems travel along with the gravel and part become a stream bed. Both live, flowing streams and ancient, long buried stream beds can be mined.

In an alluvial mine, it's a process of removing the gravel from the stream bed and separating out the gem crystals. The challenge is in removing the gravel from a flowing stream, or getting to ancient gravel beds by  removing the many feet of dirt and rock that cover them or tunneling down to the gravel and hauling it up the often narrow mine shaft.

Madagascar is best known for blue sapphire, fancy colored sapphire, and ruby. Much of this material is of high quality and cuts beautiful gems.


Madagascar yields some very fine examples of the beryl family also. Good quality emerald and aquamarine, as well as probably the world's finest morganite.

Other gem varieties mined here include malaya, spessartite, and rhodolite garnet, alexanderite,  several colors of tourmaline, spinel, sphene, and topaz.

Madagascar sounds like gem paradise!

~~~~~~~     ~~~~~~~


Are you getting all of your mail? When you send mail is it being delivered?

We all know that Spam, or junk e-mail, is a huge problem and that it must be controlled until we can kill it and eliminate this problem from our Inboxes. 

But suddenly we have another problem... your Internet Service Provider (ISP) may be throwing out e-mail that you want and need to receive.

Go to and help eliminate this problem.

If you know people doing business on the internet, or with a website for their small business, please send them this information. It's important to be sure that legitimate mail gets delivered.


~~~~~~~     ~~~~~~~

Industry News

At the Las Vegas shows the consensus is that traffic was down somewhat, but sales were up a little.

These shows are specifically designed for manufacturers and designers to sell to jewelry store owners. I'm not sure why fewer owners would be attending with the national economy going strong. Maybe they're focusing on selling older stock.

Sales of "bread-and-butter" items appear to have been strong. In designer jewelry, most sales were in trendy, quick sale pieces. The "arty" pieces that require just the right customer were selling slowly.

Dangling earrings in thin styles were selling, as were colored stone rings with a large single stone.

Pink, yellow, orange, and green gems were popular sellers. And of course, the ever-popular blue gems were also selling well.

Jewelry store owners were also buying these gems loose... to make custom rings. Popular selling loose gems were:

  • Pink sapphire
  • Pink tourmaline
  • Morganite
  • Citrine
  • Yellow sapphire
  • Spessartite garnet
  • Emerald
  • Peridot
  • Green tourmaline
  • Blue sapphire
  • Blue tourmaline
  • Blue zircon


Jewelry Dealers

Are you making up new pieces of jewelry to rebuild and upgrade your inventory depleted by holiday sales? Now is a good time to work at this fun and vital task.

We've recently received some new emerald, morganite, sapphire, peridot, and chrome diopside from our cutters.

As usual, all these gems are in sizes appropriate for center stones in  rings  and pendants.

Send me an email for information on gems that interest you.


Jewelry Dealers Program

Do you enjoy jewelry and gems?

Do you enjoy talking with friends and co-workers?

Take a look at our great Jewelry Dealers Program.

Carolyn Doyle

Back   Home


Want to change the e-mail address at which you receive this newsletter?

Want to (gulp) unsubscribe?

Send an e-mail to and let me know what you want to do.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ is the Web presence of:

The Dorado Company
P.O. Box 8232
Scottsdale, AZ 85252-8232