Congratulations to all of you celebrating a 5th anniversary, the anniversary of sapphire! Symbolising love and fidelity, sapphire is a beautiful gemstone that’s tough enough to withstand a few knocks – just like a good marriage.
Though blue is the most popular and well-known colour, sapphires occur in a wide range of pretty hues: blue, pink, green, yellow, orange, purple, black and even colourless. There’s no such thing as a red sapphire though. Know why? It’s because a red sapphire is known as a ruby. Sapphire and ruby are both varieties of the mineral corundum, and the variation in colour is caused by different chemical elements within the gemstones’ structure.
I’ve come across some phenomenal sapphires on my travels, and I don’t just mean that they made my jaw drop! The term ‘phenomenal’ in gemmology refers to gemstones that have fascinating optical properties.
The most well-known type of phenomenal sapphire is probably the star sapphire. Star sapphires exhibit a property called ‘astersim’, which means that they seem to have a star shape floating across their surface. Asterism happens when light bounces off dense, linear inclusions of titanium dioxide (also known as ‘rutile’ or ‘silk’) in the gemstone’s body. In black star sapphires, the rutile is hematite and some Thai sapphires contain both titanium dioxide and hematite. As well as causing the floating star effect, the rutile gives the star sapphire its milky, opaque appearance. Depending on the nature of the rutile, a sapphire may exhibit a four, six or twelve-rayed star.
You probably know that alexandrite is a colour change gemstone, but did you know that it’s possible to buy a colour change sapphire? Colour change gemstones appear to be different colours in natural and artificial light because the gemstone’s chemical makeup means that particular ranges of wavelength (i.e. colours) in the light spectrum are absorbed more intensely under one light source than another. The colour change in sapphires is most commonly a subtle but pretty change from blue to violet.
Bi-coloured or ‘parti’ sapphire displays two different colours (usually blue and greenish yellow) within the gemstone no matter what the light source. Though found in Tanzania, Madagascar and Nigeria, the world’s main source of parti sapphire is Australia. I was lucky enough to find a few myself, when fossicking in the outback on my travels down under. These intriguing and unusual sapphires certainly make for a striking piece of jewellery!
Happy 5th anniversary! Let’s not forget that sapphire is also September’s birthstone!
I am delighted to announce that our inaugural ‘Gemstone Tours with the Gemstone Detective‘ is a Mogok gem buying trip.
This gem buying trip is for non-professionals i.e. gem collector hobbyists and jewellery connoisseurs. You will have the opportunity to access Mogok’s legendary ruby, sapphire and spinel mines. You will gain an invaluable insight into the region’s history, local culture and we will try to give you an experience of mining (washing and sifting the gem gravels).
In addition, you will be taken to the daily gemstone markets, visit a Goldsmith, watch gemstones being cut and polished and, visit some of Mogok’s finest gem-painting artists.
But, not wishing to spoil all the surprises, this five nights / six days adventure trip includes so much more than that! It will be an adventure of a lifetime!
Terms and conditions:
This gem buying trip is for a small group, each person paying £975. Included in the cost are permission papers to enter Mogok, local driven transportation by an experienced driver, separate baggage transportation, a local English-speaking guide, lunch and dinner each day.
It is the responsibility of each person to organise their own visa, if required, and transport to the meeting point in Mandalay. You are also responsible for settling up with the hotel directly (your accommodation will be pre-booked by us on your behalf).
In order to secure your place on the trip, you must pay a non-refundable deposit of £250 now, followed by the balance by 15 January, 2020.
Finally, Kim Rix reserves the right to make changes to the itinerary in the light of any unforeseen political or environmental circumstances that could compromise the safety of everyone on this trip.
Call 020 8989 4886 to book your seat in the mini-van!
I am so fortunate to have been able to visit Mogok. The last time I visited Myanmar in 2018, Mogok was closed so I could not complete my research. I was only able to visit Mandalay and Yangon.
But, after a successful three-day event to celebrate the 800th anniversary of Mogok in March 2018, the Government in Myanmar re-opened the doors to Mogok (a city in the Pyin Oo Lwin District of the Mandalay Region of Myanmar), granting access to international tourists and visitors.
I jumped at the opportunity to visit Mogok and explore the region, 200kms north of Mandalay. And now that I have been, I can complete my writing – the next book in the Gemstone Detective series – Buying Gemstones & Jewellery in Myanmar .
I can confidently say that this essential guide for tourists will be published in mid 2020. Pre-order your author-signed copy now!
Although I have not quite finished writing the travel guide, which will be a valuable resource for gem collectors, I am delighted to have been asked to share my knowledge and photos at the Scottish Gemmological Association November Symposium on Saturday 9th November, 2019.
I am also organising a Gem Tour for 2020. Mogok is not an area to travel alone so if you would like to visit Mogok, sign up to hear more about Gem Tours with Gemstone Detective.
I hope you were able to find a few minutes to read Who is the Author – Parts 1 & 2. This is the final Who is the Author Q&A blog post.
What is the biggest mistake people
make when buying a gemstone that you tackle in the books?
The biggest mistake I think people make is being too trusting. One thing that I have learned through my
travels is that not many people working in the gem trade have real knowledge
about what they’re selling. They might
talk the talk – but how much do they really know about gemstones? You have to be so careful about who you buy
Unfortunately, it often comes down to survival. Competition is cut throat, there are bills to pay and families to feed. It’s a dog eat dog world out there and many people are willing to be dishonest to make money.
But that’s why it’s so important to take care and buy from people who can
advise you properly – people with real knowledge and if you’re buying a
precious gemstone, can give you a certificate from a reputable laboratory.
Who is the Author – Part 3
The Worldwide book offers the widest, most general appeal,
to anyone interested in buying a real gemstone – it looks set to be very
popular. What led to the creation of this
book, what sort of topics does it cover and who do you hope will read it?
After I had written the first few books, it became apparent that there was a market for a more general book on buying and caring for gemstones. It’s great for people who want to know more, but haven’t booked a holiday yet, or who want to buy a gemstone in their home country. I’ve taken out the country-specific detail, which has enabled me to add a few new topics.
I think the most helpful knowledge I share will be about choosing a diamond engagement ring. It was my husband’s idea to include an easy-to-follow guide to buying a diamond after confessing that he wished he’d known more about it when he chose our engagement ring 12 years ago. It’s written to help those who find themselves in a similar position – not knowing anything about diamonds but wanting to put a carat or two on their loved one’s finger. I talk about the 4Cs in relation to diamonds, the different ring styles and gemstone cuts, and I share some tips on making your holiday proposal one to remember!
handful of other new topics in the book, but I don’t want to spoil all the surprises!
Who is the Author – Part 3
What are your top tips for anyone who
wants to buy a real gemstone, such as a diamond, in the UK?
It doesn’t matter where in the world you are buying a diamond from, the exact same rules apply – make sure you buy from a reputable jeweller, and make sure it comes with a certificate – preferably a GIA lab report.
My other suggestion is to buy only what you can afford. Don’t listen to all the hype about how many months salary you should spend on a diamond – that was a line made up by a well-known diamond company to boost sales in the 1930s! Buy something that your loved one will enjoy wearing and that will suit the lifestyle you live.
How would you
describe the Gemstone Detective series to anyone who has never heard of it
It’s a simple travel guide to buying gemstones abroad. It’s a bit like a Lonely Planet or Rough Guide – but it’s just about holiday experiences with gemstones & jewellery.
Most of the books are country specific. The books are for
tourists and travellers, whether they are gem collectors, jewellery lovers,
jewellery designers, hobbyists, or just holiday makers who want to take home a
Because I’ve been out there to research the gem trade in
each of the countries featured, the information is real, up to date and you can
The launch was very successful and those who were there have
told me they had a great time. I
certainly did – the food was great, and both conversation and bubbly were
We’ve had some excellent feedback from readers of the book. We’re racking up more 4 and 5 star reviews from readers on Netgalley, and there is a growing number of equally glowing 4 and 5 star reviews on Amazon – 15 and counting…
It’s been great to see that several people have read the first book and then pre-ordered the rest of the series. It never even crossed my mind when I began this project that people would want to collect every book!
three books in one night tonight – quite an impressive feat! Why is it important for you to offer such a
wide range of books within the series?
Well, when someone refers to a ‘series’ I think there’s an
expectation that it’s going to be more than a few books… Of course, I want my
books to help as many people as possible.
Offering such a wide range reflects how many options we now have as
tourists to travel and explore.
How long does it take
you to write each book? What is the process in terms of choosing a destination?
Each book is a combination of 2-3 research trips, which adds
up to about 4-6 weeks research in that country. I’ve often been to a country a couple of times
even before I go back for these research trips. My most recent trip was to India,
and that book is now with the printers, ready to hit the shelves in May.
It’s easy to choose countries for the series because I know
exactly which tourist destinations have a well-established gem trade. Not all gemstone-producing countries are
suitable, so I won’t be writing a book for Cambodia, Afghanistan or Madagascar
just yet – the gem trade is too young and underdeveloped.
Who is the Author – Part 2
Where are you
travelling to this year?
I’m heading off to USA next week for a 6-week trip, and I’ll
be returning to the USA in May for a further two weeks.
I’m not quite sure how the rest of the year looks yet
because I want to fit in a trip to Mogok to finish researching the Myanmar
book, and then there’s the possibility of combining a trip to several countries
in Africa – South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania and Zanzibar.
When will the next
books be released?
India will be published on 14 May 2019, and USA will be published in September 2019. I’m not yet sure about Myanmar but hopefully it will be sometime this year – if I can squeeze in that second trip to Mogok. It’s going to be a very busy year!
Who is the Author? Over the next few weeks I will tell you a bit about myself and why I am writing the Gemstone Detective series.
Who is Kim Rix? Why are you the right person to write this book?
I’m a wife, daughter, aunty, cat-lover, gin-drinking, sun-worshipping, 4 ft 11 Ninja! I’m also a professional photographer, a gemmologist and I love to travel.
I have a very well-travelled family, who now live all over
the world. Over the years I have
listened to their stories, admired their photos and wished my lottery numbers
would come up so that I too could pack my suitcase. As time went on, I found it harder and harder
to ignore my wanderlust and realised that I couldn’t just wait for that lucky
ticket – I had to get out there and do it for myself.
Something else that had been brewing up inside me for a while was the urge to learn everything I could about gemstones. I had fallen in love with gemstones as a young girl. At that tender age, all I knew was that my birthstone was amethyst, and that diamonds were a girl’s best friend. From then on, I grabbed every available opportunity to look at gemstones. It became a bit of an expensive hobby and maybe even a bit of an addiction! One day, I decided that I should turn my hobby into something more serious – so I signed up for a course at the GIA.
Then there’s my photography. I’ve had a passion for
photography since my twenties. I love capturing the beauty of life in all its
guises. On holiday that usually means
wildlife, people, street photography and occasionally landscape photography. Something that not everyone knows is that 99%
of the photography in each book was taken by me on my research trips.
When I had the idea to write this series, it just felt perfect. I knew the books could help people like the young me – people who loved gemstones but didn’t know much about them. It’s not just my expertise in gemmology that makes me the right person to write these books – I’ve had the bad experiences, myself. Several years ago, I got caught out in Egypt. I thought I was buying a real ruby at a bargain price, when in fact it was just a cheap synthetic, made in a lab. If I knew back then what I know now, that wouldn’t have happened! I don’t want other people to make that same mistake…
You’ve combined three
passions into a career – that’s really inspirational! How did you do it?
It’s easy. Once I came up with the idea, I made a commitment to myself to do it. About 4 years ago, I was diagnosed with heart disease. I made a few lifestyle adjustments and I’m fine now, but it was a pretty scary realisation. It really brought home to me how precious life is. I was determined to get this series underway quickly, because you never know what tomorrow will bring. I believe you have to grab life with both hands and make the most of it while you can. I’m cramming each day with the things I love! I’m a self-taught photographer, I’ve always loved things that are shiny and sparkly, and I love travelling and exploring the world. Writing books which help people avoid buying a fake gemstone lets me do all these things. Now I life my life with passion, purpose and I’m getting an enormous amount of pleasure doing it!
What do you love most
about photography, gemstones/jewellery and travelling?
What do I love most about it all? It’s hard to put in to words – I just love the freedom. I meet so many interesting people. I get to look at lots of lovely shiny things. And I’m seeing the world.