Madagascar: A gemologist’s journey (Ilakaka Sapphire Deposit)

Ilakaka was probably the most exciting mining stop for me on the entire trip. As a Gemologist, I learned about this discovery, saw pictures and videos of it in my studies, but never imagined I would ever go there. This was the one day that really focused on gems rather than minerals. So I was like a kid in a candy store there.

Ilakaka Alluvial Ruby and Sapphire Deposit
Discovered in 1998, Ilakaka is one of the world’s largest alluvial sapphire deposits. This means the stones were washed down from their original source into an alluvial fan. The most common sapphires found here are purple, pink, violet and yellow. Classic blue sapphires are rare here. Ilakaka is considered the “wild west” of Madagascar since the sapphire discovery!

The video below tells more about the story. Enjoy!

This was our final stop on our trip that was business related. Now it’s time to relax on the beach a bit. Our next stop is Ifaty on the Mozambique Strait.

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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