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Frequently Asked Gemstone Questions


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2. Where do Gemstones Actually Come from?

Where On Our Planet Are Gemstones Mined?
Because they are mineral products, gemstones are mined from from the earth. Gemstone deposits are present in both developed and undeveloped countries, but because of the costs associated with hand labor, gemstone deposits are more frequently worked in less developed countries. diamonds are principally mined in Australia and South Africa, but significant amounts are produced elsewhere around the globe.  Up-and-coming new diamond deposits are being developed in Canada.

Colored stones are mined in a large number of places, with the largest producers being Brazil, parts of Asia (including Sri Lanka, Thailand and Burma), and several countries in East Africa (including Kenya and Tanzania). The world's most important opal deposits are found in Australia. The world's most important emerald deposits are found in Colombia. In my encyclopedia pages on each individual gemstone, there is a list of countries which have produced significant quantities of that gemstone.


What Are the Methods Used in Mining Gemstones?
Gemstones are removed from mines in the earth, sometimes in the hard rock where they were formed, but also sometimes in gravels where they concentrated after eroding out of the original host rock. Gems of one form or another occur worldwide wherever favorable geologic conditions lead to their formation. Although one may think of large mining operations as typical, many gemstone mines are operated on a small scale and can be as small as a normal-sized living room. Only diamond mines are commonly operated on a large scale. Most countries in which commercial deposits of colored gemstones are found are in developing nations or socialist countries in which entrepreneurial activities are not encouraged and potentially dangerous - where mechanized or high tech equipment is simply unobtainable. Gemstone mining throughout the world is actually more commonly conducted using primitive and small-scale methods. The vast majority of the colored gemstone production is produced by individual miners or small groups often using only picks, chisels, hammers, shovels and screens.  This is one of the reasons why most gemstone deposits were not exhausted centuries ago. In Sri Lanka, for example, miners dig pits as deep as 50 feet in search of favorable layers of "illam", or gemstone-bearing gravels, tracing the courses of ancient (and long-buried) stream beds. Once a shaft is dug the illam is brought up in small buckets with a hand or oxen-powered winch. A week's production would scarcely fill a baby's playpen. This material is meticulously washed and screened to yield a handful of small pebbles, a few of which may turn out to be cuttable sapphire, chrysoberyl, garnet or other gemstone.

I want to see more About Gemstone Mines.
I have a whole series of web pages about my turquoise Mines in Nevada. Learn about the process from gem rough to finished jewelry by checking out our faceting web page: MY TURQUOISE MINES PAGE HERE



Nevada Outback Gems

Find out more by checking out all of our links below:
Our Free Colored Gemstone Information Encyclopedia Amethyst and Citrine info Aquamarine information
What Really Is A Gemstone? Apatite information Chrysoberyl information
How are Gemstones Mined? Diamond information Emerald information
What About a Gemstone Makes it so Valuable? Garnet information Morganite information
What About Investing in Gemstones? Opal information Peridot information
Nevada Outback Library and Bookstore - Learn more! Ruby information Sapphire information
The Rockhound's Corner for Gem Hunting Spinel information Oregon Sunstone info
Take a virtual tour of our Nevada Turquoise mines Tanzanite information Topaz information
Rare Crystals and Gemstone Rough, including Turquoise Tourmaline information Tsavorite information
Natural Gold Nugget Photos: Big Nuggets, Crystal Gold Turquoise information Zircon information
Chris' Gold Prospecting Encyclopedia Nevada Outback Gems Homepage Nevada Outback Gems Site Map