Madagascar A Gemologist’s Journey (Ambatonapetraka Tourmaline Locality)

Tourmaline Fever
Ambatonapetraka is a recently discovered weathered pegmatite zone with a very high concentration of tourmalines. Because it is such a recent discovery, the locals still have “tourmaline fever.” We are there on a Sunday, so fewer miners are busy working. We’re told there are normally hundreds of miners digging in this area.

Families working in Ambatonapetraka
Here entire families work the mine in the hopes of finding the next best tourmaline. Women and children scoured the dump piles. While older boys and men worked the mine shafts. While our group walked among the miners being lookey-lous and taking photos, we barely disturbed their work.

The road between Ambatonapetraka and our next destination of Ambatofinandrahana was full of interesting creatures. We encountered a swarm of locusts of biblical proportions! The locals catch them in nets and eat them.
Swarm of Locusts of Biblical Proportions
In addition to the locusts, we also shared the road with herd after herd of zebu making their way to the market to be auctioned off in two days.
Zebu on the way to market

In my next post, we’ll visit one of my favorite towns, Ambatofinandrahana.

Author: Michelle M. Rahm is a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist and is President of Colorado’s Mile High Chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. She has been selling gemstones and jewelry online since 1997. Visit her websites and

About mrahm

Michelle holds a Graduate Gemologist Diploma, Graduate Diamonds Diploma and Graduate Colored Stones Diploma through the Gemological Institute of America's distance education program. Michelle currently serves as President of the Mile High GIA Alumni Association. She also serves on the board of the Rocky Mountain Jeweler's Association and is a member of the American Gem Trade Association.
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