By Vladyslav Y. Yavorskyy


While spinel was first reported from Tanzania in the Umba area, it was the discovery of glittering red gems at Mahenge that set the world afire. In 2007, within the span of just a few short weeks, miners at Ipanko in the Mahenge area unearthed several large crystals weighing from six to 54 kg. While the cores of these crystals were not of gem quality, the outer portions were, resulting in a stunnng array of fine gems. Ranging in color from pinkish or orangy red to the richest crimson, these Mahenge stones were available in clean stones as large as 30 carats or more. Within a few short months, spinel prices around the world doubled and then quadrupled as savvy buyers snapped them up.
Picture this. Just as suddenly as they appeared, they were gone. Although miners continue to work the ground at Ipanko, at this writing (2010), nothing like the 2007 discoveries has again been found.
In addition to Mahenge, multicolored spinels are also found in Tanzania with the sapphire diggings at Umba in the north and Tunduru in the south. -

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