A March 2002 trip
to Sapphire by spaceout
Quote: We started our journey with the idea of fossicking in Sapphire. What seemed like
“hillbilly” county, with horses and bovine walking around in town with no fence holding
them back, was actually the center of the most interesting people we had ever
encountered. Read on for more on this adventure...
We drove in the labyrinth of Sapphire until we found what we were looking for. Our first
stop at DownUnder Gems was where it all began. Large signs greeted us, advertising
B-B-Q, Gem Cutting, Fossicking Patch and Learning all about Fossicking. This was
exactly what we were looking for as we didn't know how to begin looking for gems.
They greeted us as long time friends. It was such a pleasant surprise.
The owner showed us the ropes, and even took us to the mining sites, where the owner of
Coolamon Mining took us on a tour of the whole procedure of digging the mines and
whatnot, to even drive to Rubyvale where we saw the fantastic finished products, ready
to be sold around the world, assorted colored sparkling Sapphires. Wow!!
--First one can buy either a bucket of dirt for 6$ or a wheelbarrow of dirt for 35$.
--Then one must wash the dirt in a "double strainer", until all is left are medium size
rocks in the first strainer, and small rocks in the second strainer.
--Then we check the first strainer for sapphires, which could be from light yellows to
dark blues in shades, by turning the strainer upside down on a table with a cloth on it.
--The owners were there at all times to help us out. They offered coffee and water. There
was shade and picnic tables.
--Here we can also hire fossicking equipment if you're looking to do this on your own.
But it's a little more difficult and a little less rewarding. One needs to purchase a license
in Emerald and be under the scorching sun for hours on end. And when the sun goes
down, you probably haven't found anything.
--The owner set up, for us, a grand tour of the Sapphire business which you can read
about under Coolamon Mining.
--Yes, we did find some!! The owner, a gemmologist, then examined the sapphires and
divided them into which one we could have cut and which one we couldn't. E.g. Star
Sapphire, Black Spinel, and Cutible Sapphire.
She said that we can either send them by mail, or to bring them back when we are ready
to have them cut, for a very affordable fee. It would take 24 hrs to have them ready, and
even mounted if we desired so. Personally I wouldn't have any problems sending them
via mail, if it happens that I cannot return, as I trust those people completely.
I took mine with me and will wait until the right occasion to have them cut.
For more information about CD Down Under Gems, you can get in touch with them at:
--PH 07 4985 4920
--Mob 0438 155 980
--Mob 0408 780 344
--PO Box 355
For more information you can get in touch with;
--Natural Resources and Mines
--Ph/Fax 07 4982 4142
Most of the population of Sapphire and Rubyvale work in the gem mine. They are like a big family, and no one is trying to top the other. They are helping each other. I was quite impressed to experience how these people lived in harmony. Truly an example to many parts of the earth.
As we were driving to the mine, we got a slight history of the development of center
Queensland and the mining industry.
A few years ago, it seems that the Russians were giving their recognized soldiers lots of
Queensland, which of course consisted of slightly deserted land, as we can witness as we
drive through these parts of Australia. The "new" owners weren't aware of the "gifts"
until they arrived to Australia. But they made the best of the situation, and that's when
they found that this area was rich in Sapphires and other gems, and started developing the
business. Not many live here, but the Australians took over the "digging" to offer the
world some of the best qualities Sapphires.
On our way we also encountered a man with a camel?? Yes, a camel in the middle of
Northern Australia. We were told that this man was a champion camel driver of the
Australian camel races. He lives close by for the peace, quiet and friendly atmosphere.
Although we didn't stop to talk to him due to our lack of time in the area, we were told
that he's extremely friendly and not vain at all. It would have been pleasant to interact
with him, as per how/when he decided to race, but it will be in another story in the future
When we got to the mining site, the "tractor" "sapphire digging machine" was broken,
therefore we had a chance to actually have a full tour and explanations of how everything
works. From digging, washing, size selecting to cutting, we had detailed explanations.
Sapphires resources are diminishing rapidly around the world. Therefore the gem is
becoming rarer every day. Coolamon Mining mostly export blue sapphires, but the
Central Queensland Gemfields also produces a mixture of all the other colors of
sapphires available. Coolamon offers a by-product of zircons too. The Australians have
been trying to break the world market for quite a few years, and only in these recent years
have they been recognized. It wasn’t the quality, as these sapphires are top quality, it was
just a lack of knowledge from the world’s population as per where sapphires are dug.
To purchase or have further information on Coolamon Mining Pty LTD contact them at;
--PH 07 4985 4277
--Fax 07 4985 4384
--PO Box 303
--web sites click here
SJ, New Brunswick