Most gemstone deposits are found accidentally and then prospecting and mining starts. No gem deposit is a guarantee it will produce or worth the mining cost, it’s a gamble!
My story is from one of rare stones that only comes from Tanzania - The TANZANITE
Mr. Philipo (not his real name) a tanzanite miner gazes at the magnificent Mount Kilimanjaro its topmost slopes covered in fresh white snow contrasting against a cloudless blue sky. Sweat drops trickle down his forehead with the temperature hitting the high 30’s, he is about to descend into this dark almost bottomless pit in mirelani block “D” (its just southwest of Arusha close to the Kilimanjaro International airport). He does not know it but today his luck is going to change after 5 yrs of grueling the dangerous and expensive mining operation, he is going to hit it big.
He puts on his helmet, switches on his light attached to his helmet and starts to descend to the bottom of the pit hundreds of meters underground, a few hours ago he and his crew had just blasted the gem producing vein they had been following for years . He picks up a heavy chisel and his favourite hammer and goes on to work on the blasted area as he hits the chisel the rock crumbles and falls to his feet and he stares at a hollow filled with a white ” cotton” its infact limestone rock with crystals of beautiful tanzanite protruding he know his luck has changed he has hit a huge pocket of tanzanite. With adrenaline pumping he and his crew work for a couple of hours very carefully removing the stones, putting it into a security bag ready for its first trip to the outside world.
As soon as he gets on top he gets into his 4x4 and rushes to his office in Arusha and deposits it into his safe. He pulls a small piece of a few grams and decides to sell it to his friend so he can start to celebrate his good fortune. His friend Pete a gemologist weighs the stone studies it for inclusion but this piece is totally clean so they negotiate and both agree on a price. Mr. Philipo picks his cash and heads out to celebrate.
Pete calls his lapidarist studies the piece and both decide the best way to cut the stone that will yield the most and the best color , the lapidarist shapes the stone using a special diamond wheel in this case the shape will be a square and in gem terms will cut a “cushion” ready for the next process called doping here the stone is doped using special wax on to a metal dope which will be connected to the gem faceting machine , its than facetted which simply means the facets are ground out of the stone at different angles and patterns with precision and skill so as to bring out the gems hidden beauty. It is than followed by polishing theground facets to a mirror finish .The way the facets are set and the mirror finishing unlocks the beauty of the stone. Pete gets his stone back from his lapidarist and it’s a beauty it’s a brilliant (round cut like a diamond) but it’s a bit blue purple and has some brownish.
It’s time to heat treat the stone. Here we finish what nature was suppose to do but didn’t get around finishing it .The stone is heated to around 550 degrees centigrade and cooled .The stone now has a deep bluish purple color and its ready to set into jewelry.
Pete is really happy with the stone and has a customer Mrs. Brownn who wanted a nice size brilliant gem tanzanite for her birthday, so he calls her she is taken up with it and buys it but she now wants to make a ring she has a very special design in mind .
Pete calls his jeweler and there go over Mrs. Brownn’s design . Mrs. Brownn is told to come back in a couple of days which she does and just loves her ring and off she goes to show it off to her friends to enjoy it for the rest of her days and beyond.
This is what most gems stones go through some not through the heating process but through the mining, faceting and polishing process, to create its shine!