News from the front... John sees red !


10am, accompanied by two guides, John decides to undertake a risky
trek towards the forest. A new ruby mine having supposedly been
On the road, near the small village of Behorefo, they encounter malasos
(highway bandits) to which they ask directions for their path.


Relieved from a gold signet ring and of Johnís camera, the small team follows the
malasos who lead them on a winding trail through the hills to Befelatanana.
(Fortunately, John had brought his backup camera, the one with which he took the
pictures youíre seeing.)



Bushfires ravaged the forest. Started by farmers in order to offer new cultures areas.
This young boy is a malaso son. 
His eyes can shoot you at a glance.
Arriving at a clearing, Johnís guides are hungry, so, the
malasos hunt a rodent, a Tsandraka.




After a three hour walk, they cross a river infested with crocodiles. The malasos
abandon them. Several hours into and through the undergrowth will follow next,
the deposit is reached at 5pm. 


Forty men are working there, they are Nosymboahangy and 
they prohibit photography.


In a makeshift hut, the team spends a very cool night during which one of the 
guides catches a cold and a headache. 


But in the morning, surprise! The first rubies are presented. They are not 
very big, but their quality is outstanding. Thus itís in Didy where small sapphires came out of 
the forest, sporadically, for over a year. Here, some rubies display a red colour that makes one 
want to bite into them !
Often buried shallow, rubies are extracted using crowbars and shovels from
alluvial conglomerates, these having served them as shrouds over millions
of years.


Artisanal sieve used to separate gems from alluvial conglomerates.
The holes are made by using a nail.
Sivany, sifting gemmiferous gravel in river.


In the morning, the makeshift tents huddled under a sky laden with moisture
see their occupants emerge from their dreams. As fog at treetops, these
draming brackets will remain clinging to the minersísoul until they find what
they were looking for.


The bottom of the air remains fresh at this hour. One try to warm hands,
either in his pockets, or close to a fire.
The sosoa, wet rice usually served at breakfast, has been absorbed without
restraint. Sated and bulging belly, men are ready to resume their mission.


Within the rainy season, holes
quickly become inexploitable.



Mixture of gravel and pebbles,
alluvial conglomerates attest
to the painstaking work done
by miners.




Buckets, crowbars , shovels, sieves : the basic material of miners.



Rubies from this region have been found in alluvium, Ruby crystal, red Madagascar mineral, exclusive rubies, corundum information data

but probably come from endomorpheous feldspatic

rocks. In fact, we frequently found corundums
showing flat faces in feldspatic rocks in Madagascar.


Mixture of gravel and pebbles, alluvial conglomerates
attest to the painstaking work done by miners.


Near the tents, gemmiferous sand is stored waiting to be screened ...
This sandbox is the real safety deposit box of miners, a safety deposit box
that contains perhaps one or more lottery tickets.


In the morning, this miner left the camp a screen on the back.


After being emptied of their
gems, holes are quickly



Watching a rough ruby with a halogen lamp.


Corundums / Visual Catalog / Safari
Geological references: A. Lacroix, P. Brenon, R.Dormois, H.Bessairies,
                                  H. de la Roche, A Poldervaart. Your guide to GGGems
A. Darbellay
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