Gemstones have never played any significant economic role in the long history and rich culture of Ethiopia. It is only in the last two decades that Ethiopia has emerged in the gem trade. Rondeau et al. reported the discovery of large gemstone deposits in the country only recently.
The first high-quality emeralds from southern Ethiopia and sapphire from the north reached the market in the past few years.
With all of these new materials reaching the market, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) collaborated with the Ethiopian government to set up an expedition to the sapphire, opal, and emerald sources. Here, we focus only on sapphire.
Rumors of the sapphire discovery reached the Asian markets where the first stones were displayed. Since the initial discovery, sapphires have been found in many localities throughout northern Ethiopia.
The sapphires are mined and traded in the vicinity of Aksum. Since the mining area is remote and road access is limited, most of the transportation is carried out using camels and donkeys.
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