New corundum discoveries reported in Madagascar

Madagascar is once again the site of new corundum discoveries, the International Colored Gemstone Association says.

ICA Ambassador to Madagascar, Tom Cushman, reports that a new ruby discovery was found in the Andilamena mining district, thus confirming rumors that have circulated since December, of a new source for a very rich color pink sapphire.

Andilamena has produced ruby since 2000 and is most recently famous for the “ruby star” material that is often lead glass filled. For the first two years the Andilamena rubies were mined from the riverbed and adjacent banks. Beginning in late 2003, shaft mining reached the level of the primary deposit of the ruby star. The March find was the primary deposit of another type of ruby being found in Andilamena. This ruby is usually small, dark red, well-formed, hexagonal platelets. “This deposit contains much more gem quality material than the “ruby star” and should be appearing in quantity in the marketplace right about now,” Cushman said.

Another new corundum find south of Mahajunga was recently reported. However, its quality and quantity were not appraised at the time ICA released its other findings. Vincent Pardieu, director of the Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences Laboratory in Bangkok, and member of the ICA Communications Committee, is in Madagascar visiting the new finds and studying the gem material found. He has plans to publish his findings when he returns from his tour of Madagascar and other mining areas in Africa.

Cushman reports that Ilakaka/Sakaraha is still producing in quantity but the industry has matured a great deal since the big rush a few years ago. Reports from the Service des Mines state large quantities of both pink and blue sapphire are being exported from the Ilakaka region.