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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
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
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
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.
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
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
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:
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