As part of her doctoral program at the University of Queensland, our researcher Lynda Lawson has been talking to women working across the sapphire value chain. This has taken her from women miners working in streams in South West Madagascar to women traders in the mining towns of Sakaraha and Ilakaka. Many Malagasy sapphires are treated, cut and sold in Thailand. In January she followed the sapphires to Bangkok and Chantaburi where she interviewed women who grade sapphires, women cutters and designers, women jewelers and women who own their own gem businesses. She also met and interviewed the many highly skilled and talented women gemologists who work in Thailand and provide professional guidance and expertise to those wishing to better understand their gemstones.
She met Billie Hughes a young gemologist and photographer who with her family, Wimon Manorotkul and Richard Hughes, has written some of the most beautiful print celebrations of ruby and sapphire for example Ruby and Sapphire; a gemologist’s guide.
Twenty years of their photographs are currently being exhibited at Tongji University Shanghai in an exhibit called "Inside Out". The display captures both the microscopic world of gem inclusions and the stories behind the gems; those who have found them and the places they are found.
For those wishing to visit, the exhibition is in the library at the Zhejiang campus of Tongji University.
For those unable to visit, GemHub is delighted to share some of their photos here .