Journey of a GEM
The Journey of a Gem begins when gemstones are found accidentally, and then the prospecting and mining starts.
No gem deposit is a guarantee, you are never reassured if the product is worth the mining cost. It’s a (total) gamble!
My story is from one of the 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 and bottomless pit in Mirelani block “D” (its location is southwest of Arusha near the Kilimanjaro International airport). He does not know it yet, but today his luck is about to change after 5 years of grueling the dangerous and costly mines. He is finally going to hit it big!
He puts on his helmet, switches on his head torch, 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 newly exposed area, as he hits the chisel the rock crumbles and falls to his feet, he stares at a hollow filled with what appears to be ‘white cotton’ when it’s, in fact, limestone with beautiful glistening crystals of Tanzanite protruding out. He knows his luck has changed when he hits a pocket full of tanzanite. With adrenaline rushing/ pumping through his veins, he and his crew work quickly and carefully trying to securely gather these rare gemstones. These gemstones are packaged with the utmost greatest heed ready for their first trip to the outside world.
Once these gemstones are packaged securely, Mr. Philipo rushes out of the mines and towards his 4 by 4 vehicle, towards his office in the main city of Arusha where he deposits it in his safe.
Here he decides to separate a few grams of Tanzanite he can faction off for a great price to his friend, Peter, a gemologist.
Peter weighs the stones and studies them for any inclusions that might be present, and once found that the pieces are crystal clear they can now both negotiate a price.
The journey of the gems doesn’t end with Mr. Philipo collecting his cash and beginning to celebrate his success.
Traceability & Ethically
Every gem has a journey from the mines to its present owner its future is unknow it will carry memories of life love, Happiness, Sadness and will relate to the special events during our life’s. Its Beauty will most likely never fade like the stars.
Each Gem has a history where it got mined? Who mined it? How many hands did it change hands before it got to us? How and Who Processed it?
Traceability & Ethic
We’re glad these questions about traceability are becoming increasingly important. The stone’s journey is crucial to providing the whole story to your client and making better informed buying decisions.
Answering questions about traceability requires two aspects: transparency and trust. Not only are they crucial for traceability, we believe they are essential in any business relationship.
We strive to provide you with the utmost amount of information so that you can make an informed purchasing decision. We also hope to show you in our daily interactions that we’re open to any questions you have, even tough ones. We invite you to enquire about each stone’s journey and the hands involved in its production and craftsmanship.
To achieve transparency in the gem trade, there are 2 possible strategies, tracking (downstream “from mine to market”) or tracing gemstones (upstream “from market to mine”). Both strategies are beneficial and needed in the market.
As cutters, we are a crucial link in this chain of information, since we often interact directly with the miners who produce the gem or the brokers who purchase directly at the mine. In our pursuit of quality, we’re proud to source gems from all over the world. Sometimes it’s tourmaline rough sent to us directly from the miner in Namibia or a chrysoberyl bought in the market in Sri Lanka. Other times, stones might be shown to us in our office by a trusted broker or we may travel to the mine to purchase the production. Regardless of the stone’s journey, we gather our data first-hand from the miners and brokers or from verified reports of journalists and academics who have visited the mining areas. Some of the mining areas we’ve visited ourselves, others not yet, although we hope to soon.
To better pass along all the information we have, we’ve begun providing reports with information for each stone, both on its origin and its journey to us. In order to clearly communicate the journey each stone took before arriving on our cutting wheel, we’ve consolidated our gems into 4 possible levels of traceability. Each level corresponds with the degree of certainty we have with the information and history of the stone:
Level 1 – Mining partnership
We have an established partnership in place with the mining company who produced this gem. This means we have direct insight into the production practices of this mining operation as we have visited the site on many occasions. We are financially invested in the mining process and partner in its development. We can confidently testify to the provenance of this gem and provide further detailed information on the mining procedures in place.
Level 2 – On-site Contact
We purchased this gemstone from a contact with direct access to the mine location and with whom we have maintained a long and trusted business relationship. Our supplier has clearly reported on the exact mining locations and production practices applied. In some instances, we have visited the mining operations ourselves and have witnessed the extraction process. In both cases we have very good visibility of the gem’s life cycle and can testify fairly confidently to the provenance of this gemstone.
Level 3 – Trusted Broker
We purchased this gemstone from a gem dealer, with whom we have developed a business relationship for years. The dealer functions as a middleman between the mining cooperative or a local broker and us. As far as we know, the gem has travelled from the mine to a larger nearby city where our contact purchased it before bringing it to show our buyers. Based on our information and source, we are confident in the country of origin but are unable to validate the exact mining location.
Level 4 – Open Market
We purchased this gemstone from a gem dealer. Based on the information provided by our supplier and/or the origin determination given by a lab certificate, we determine the country of origin as listed. We do not have enough information to fully confirm the exact journey the gem has taken from the mining location to us.