African Gemstones: The New Age Collection

It could be the driest place on the planet with average rainfall in most parts of the continent barely touching the three-figure mark! But in recent times since 1960’s, the gemstone market is raining big time in Africa. So extensive has been the rise of African gemstones that today, the continent is considered the empire of precious stones. You dig anywhere, and you probably would end up with the rarest of gemstones.
Don’t believe us? Read on...

It all started with Kimberley diamonds!

The capital of modern day diamond mining, Kimberly in South Africa is home to one of the world’s oldest known commercial diamond mining and dealing companies. The first diamond was discovered in 1866 along the banks of the River Orange, and since then it has remained a place of reverence and fortune making for many gemstone collectors and businessmen.

Between 1870 and 1914, close to 2000 kilograms of diamonds were mined! That volume exceeded every known diamond source at that time, including Golconda, Sri Lanka, and Arizona mines.

Famous diamonds that came from the Kimberley mines are The Cullinan, Eureka, Hope Diamond, The Excelsior, The Star of Sierra Leone and Centenary Diamond.

But wait, Africa has Zabargad too!

Much before the discovery of diamonds in Kimberley, African gemstones were already in the hitlist of European and Asian tradesmen. Zabargad is a prolific gemstone producing island in the Red Sea, now under the control of Egypt. It is the oldest known peridot producing region, and has been in the news since the rule of ancient Macedonians and Romans.

And then we have Tanzania!

Africa is one continent to have more than one gemstone named after its principal regions. For instance, Alexandrite, which is named after the city of Alexandria. Many gem collectors like to believe that it was named after the czar of Russia- Nicholas Alexander II. If that’s a controversy, how about Tanzanite!

Tanzanite is the remarkable blue-violet gemstone, first discovered in 1967 along the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro bordering the city of Arusha. It is one of the few gemstones to exhibit the rate optical property of trichroism. So prominent has been its rise that Tanzanite made it into the list of Birthstones in 2002. A change that was made to the list for the first time since the World War 1!

Other places of prominence and rising significance in the gemstone are Namibia, Mozambique, Madagascar, Nigeria and Congo.

Exclusive African gems:

Paraiba Tourmaline is one of the rarest and the costliest African gemstone if you consider the per carat pricing. First discovered in Brazil, Paraiba tourmaline from Mozambique is only the second known source of the gemstone.

African regions also lead in almandine garnet beads, pyrope, topaz gemstone beads, Spessarite, Apatite, Iolite gemstone, and Alusite, Rhodolite, Tsavorite and Kyanite Gemstones.

The future:

In the year 2014, world’s largest ruby was exhibited. The 40-odd carat ruby was mined from Montepuez, Mozambique. Emeralds from Zambia’s Kagem mine as big as 6100 carats are making the regular news. So the future is still shiny and bright as far as precious and semi-precious gemstones are concerned.