Richland Postpone First Sapphire Sale

Author: Danielle Max

(IDEX Online News) – Gemstone miner Richland Resources has announced that it is postponing its first sale of goods from the Capricorn Sapphire project in Australia until the end of the third quarter. The move comes after consultations with its key Sightholders following lower than-expected production.

 According to the company, production in first weeks of the initial start-up and production commissioning phase of the Capricorn project has been lower than projected due to an electrical problem that prevented consistent levels of processing. The issue has now been fixed.  

Instead of a sale, the company is holding a product display and education session at the Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair, which opens today. The session will be used to introduce the first Capricorn Sapphire sapphires to potential Sightholders and trade buyers, and discuss downstream branding.

 “We have taken the decision not to make the event a formal Sight as the quantity of gemstones is not sufficient for the type of marketing profile we wish to build with customers,” said CEO Bernard Olivier.

 “Whilst it is disappointing, start-up issues like this forms part of a rapid mine redevelopment process as we continue our start-up and ramp-up phase. However I believe the best way to solve these issues are to identify and rectify them while in operation.”

Jammu and Kashmir government floats fresh ‘global tenders’ for Kashmir sapphire


Source: the Indian Express

Not giving up yet on its intention to tap the potential of the world-famous Kashmir sapphire gemstone, the Jammu and Kashmir government has floated a fresh tender to attract the attention of international and national players interested in its extraction.

“A fresh global tender has been floated to tap the potential of high-grade and world-famous sapphire (mined) in Kishtar belt of the state,” Minister for Industries and Commerce Sajjad Ahmed Kichloo told PTI.

The new tenders follow the previous offer inviting Expression of Interest which failed to generate much response as “only one major company had submitted the proposal for extraction of sapphire,” Kichloo said.

“We do not want to give the contract this way”. J&K Minerals Ltd, a state government enterprise, yesterday issued a fresh global tender inviting parties with expertise in mine-planning, exploration and mining of gemstones to undertake exploration and exploitation of sapphire through a joint venture.

Sapphire from Paddar Valley in Kishtwar district is famous the world over for its unique peacock-blue colour.

The minister, also a local MLA from Kishtwar, is keen on the project and hopes that the Paddar sapphire would soon make a return to markets worldwide. “We are going to speed up the process to ensure the exploitation of this sapphire wealth,” Kichloo said.

JKML holds a mine lease over an area of 6.65 square kilometre on GT Sheet 52/C at Paddar, at a height of 4,327 meters. Following the 45-day deadline for answering to the tender, a list of parties will be prepared who will be issued a Request for Proposal to submit their technical and financial bids.

Kichloo said that the companies will be assessed for their financial and technical capabilities as well as past experience given that the state government is keen to have them mining conducted along the most scientific lines.

The sapphire from Paddar is renowned for its unmatched clarity and transparency and is mainly used in jewellery.

The minister said that the two-decade long militancy in the state, extreme geographical conditions and a lack of resources have till date hampered the commercial exploitation of this valuable natural reserve, which was first undertakenm in Paddar in 1885.

“Their colour holds up in all kinds of light, which experts describe as a magical property when compared with other fine sapphires such as Burmese stones which lose their rich colour in the evening light,” said officials at JKML.

The presence of microscopic inclusions in the stone gives it a magical ‘velvety’ effect, creating a soft yet strong colour like peacock blue. The price of pure sapphire can easily cross USD 100,000 for a carat, making it the most expensive in its category.

JKML goes for extraction during two months in the summers and has extracted over 8,000 gm of raw sapphire, known as corundum. Sold in auctions, these have attracted buyers from as far as South East Asia in the past two years.

Bewitching Sapphire

We publish courtesy of Color-n-Ice

Black is back, in gemstones that is. One could argue that it never faded from public demand. But there are few pricey black stones that can truly be fit for couture jewelry. Black diamonds are one such gem. Many of these ebony beauties rely on irradiation to even out the distribution of inky black tone across the entire stone. Large black diamonds often suffer from surface reaching fractures which could compromise the stone’s integrity. Lesser valued black stones abound like jet and onyx. There are black looking tourmaline too. But none of these are snatched up by haute jewelers.

So, how about black sapphire? Corundum is sapphires’ species, and this mineral boasts a boatload of naturally occurring colors like pink, green, purple, orange, yellow, brown, besides blue and red, making that variety a ruby. To sweeten the deal, some black sapphire contains rutile needles, becoming a star sapphire when cut en cabochon.

Black sapphires are a lustrous alternative to black diamonds. All corundum is a hard mineral, ranking 9 on the Mohs scale. This is second only to diamond, the hardest substance on earth, so sapphire is guaranteed to be gorgeous and new looking years after one first acquired it. Sapphires are found in Madagascar, Kenya and Thailand, Nigeria and other destinations, including the United States.

12th century Von Bingen chronicled many gemstone traits in her book Physica. She wrote this about sapphire—“Who is dull and would like to be clever, should, in a sober state, frequently lick with the tongue on a sapphire, because the gemstone’s warmth and power, combined with the saliva’s moisture, will expel the harmful juices that affect the intellect. Thus, the man will attain a good intellect.”

I’m thinking you would be smart enough just to buy the stone. But that’s just me.

Pretty Little Liars starlet Ashley Benson struts her stuff on the red carpet in Los Angeles recently in Matthew Campbell Laurenza, MCL Design, black sapphire oval earrings.

Photo courtesy D’Orazio & Associates, Beverly Hills

Sapphire Mining Update – Southern Madagascar

We publish courtesy of G&G eBrief

Author: Vincent Pardieu, GIA Laboratory, Bangkok

Photos by Vincent Pardieu

In July-August 2010, this contributor visited the Ilakaka-Sakaraha and Andranondambo mining areas in southern Madagascar with several colleagues. In addition to collecting reference samples for GIA, our goal was to assess the state of the sapphire industry in the region.

Discovered in 1998, the Ilakaka-Sakaraha deposit extends more than 80 km from the Isalo National Park toward Toliara on the southwest coast. The area produces an abundance of pink and blue sapphires (most of which require heat treatment), as well as a wide variety of other gems.

Many Thai and Sri Lankan dealers have buying offices in the area, and most of the stones are exported to those two countries for heat treatment and cutting. Compared to my previous visits in 2005 and 2008, the number of foreign buyers has dropped, and they are paying lower prices for the gems.

Mining activity has also waned; we found only three small operations (two Thai, one Malagasy) still using machinery. The main mining area was located near Antsoa, southeast of Sakaraha, where about 1,500 miners were active. Antsoa was reportedly producing the best blue sapphires, with fine rough stones up to 10 g.

We found anywhere from 10 to 500 people working at the more than 20 other sites we visited. We estimate that about 50,000 people are now earning a living (directly or indirectly) from sapphire mining in Ilakaka-Sakaraha, half the number reported in 2005.

In the Andranondambo area, blue sapphires are mined from several primary deposits by small groups of artisanal miners near Andranondambo, Maromby, Tirimena, and Siva. The most active mining area appeared to be Ankazoabo (north of Andranondambo), where Malaysian company Nantin Ltd. was operating heavy machinery alongside some 200 artisanal miners using hand tools.

Gem mining in Madagascar, particularly in Ilakaka, has faced many difficulties in recent years. In particular, from February 2008 to July 2009, the Malagasy government banned all gem exports. The main reason for the current decrease in activity seems to be the global economic crisis and the resulting poor market. In turn, the mining community has suffered shortages of food and other necessities, and security issues plague the region. Shrinking margins have led to fierce competition between buyers, and many are considering a switch to ruby dealing in Mozambique.

New mining and rough gemstone export legislation passed in Tanzania

This could lead to Jaipur facing raw material shortage

Courtesy of: Diamond World

Recently, the parliament of Tanzania took a decision to ban export of rough gemstones from Tanzania, reports say. The purpose behind this move is to develop a cutting and polishing industry in Tanzania itself and boost local employment. The gemstones under purview of the new legislation include diamonds, tanzanite, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, turquoise, topaz and others, reports add. At the parliament session, William Ngeleja – Minister of Energy and Minerals said that the decision followed a long drawn discussion on this bill, and has finally been passed.

Under the revised legislation, the mining of gemstones will be reserved for locals; foreigners are required to enter into joint ventures with Tanzanian nationals; it is mandatory for mining contracts to be reviewed every five years, with specific areas set aside by the government to avert recurring conflicts with big miners. Also, Tanzania will not issue new gemstone mining licenses to foreign companies. Current agreements with foreign mining companies remain unchanged. Gemstone producer Tanzanite One (TNZ.L), will not be affected by the new ownership rules.

This new legislation will bear heavy on the Jaipur gemstone industry. Today, cutting and polishing of tanzanite is a major business for the Jaipur gemstone industry, which procures all the rough from Tanzania – the only source for tanzanite.

Rajiv Jain, Vice-chairman, GJEPC, said, “We know that this kind of bill has been passed. The talks at the higher government level have already been initiated and we are trying to find the best possible solution for the trade of Jaipur”.

Jagdish Tambi, KL Tambi & Co., Jaipur, said, “I am hearing about this and I hope that some solution should come out for the same. The Tanzania government is expecting to get employment there but currently it is not possible to cut and polish the gemstone in Tanzania. The tanzanite one sight holders would be benefited from this as the company has a license to export and the new laws are not applicable on them . But this would definitely make the shortage of the raw material, which is anyway tough to procure.”

Sanjay Phophalia, United Jewellers, Jaipur said, “I am aware of this bill but there are lot of uncertainties which would be clear in the due course of time. This should be taken care at the government level and the Ministry should try and help the trade of Jaipur, as the policy if applied could negatively affect the Jaipur manufacturing trade.” Inviato dal dispositivo wireless BlackBerry®

GIT-GTL’s lab alert: An Update on Titanium-Diffused Sapphire

As indicated by the title, this treatment is not new. (See one of Richard Hughes’s articles that discusses the history of surface diffusion.) What was new to the GIT researchers was that the evidence of treatment was reduced, “or even eliminated,” in faceted material.
Samples of rough and cut material were obtained by the lab in November. The report is well illustrated; penetration of the diffusion is easily observed alongside traditionally heated sapphire, under diiodomethane (methylene iodide) immersion. Photomicrographs by ex-Pala staffer Wimon Manorotkul reveal the telltale signs of heating at high temperatures: melted crystals, dotted lines of partially resorbed needles, and discoid fractures encircling melted crystals. Even normal photography displays strong color rims on the rough.
Seems simple enough, but the report’s conclusion stresses that because this faceted material contains so little evidence of enhancement, compared with what is typically seen, care must be taken by gemologists in order not to overlook the treatment.

courtesy of Pala International