A gem “fingerprint.” That’s what Vincent Pardieu, senior manager of field gemology for GIA in Bangkok, and his six-person team are looking for as they traverse the globe – and log hours in the lab – finding, analyzing and cataloging colored stones for GIA’s Colored Stone Identification and Origin Report reference collection.
So when Pardieu’s team learned of a newly discovered ruby deposit in northeast Madagascar in July 2015, they arranged a field expedition and set to work investigating and documenting the rubies of the island nation’s Zahamena National Park.
On Nov. 4, just a month after their trip, Pardieu and field assistant Manuel Diaz visited GIA’s Carlsbad campus to share their findings − and sometimes harrowing experiences − with students and staff.
“To have a reference collection, you need to build it. And the best way to build it … is to send somebody to the field – to go and visit every gem mine that is known, and collect samples,” Pardieu said.
Pardieu, a GIA Graduate Gemologist with a long career as a gemological researcher, tour guide and gemology writer, said that prior to recent discoveries, Madagascar was known primarily for its active sapphire mines.
A 2000 discovery “deep in the rainforest” of the eastern Andilamena district “put Madagascar on the map for rubies,” Pardieu said. And though miners carried bags brimming with the stones (“I never saw a place with so many rubies,” he said), most of them were too heavily fractured for use in jewelry without treatment.
The deposit really started to be active after the discovery of the lead glass treatment in 2004. The area became known for the stones’ low quality until a 2012 discovery of sapphire and ruby near the small, remote village called Didy.
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