The Nigerian Gem Hunt (Part 1)

Gem Hunting in Nigeria’s Northern Region (Part 1)

Nigeria is a wonderful and little understood land, right in the heart of Africa. It’s home to some of the richest and most valuable deposits of gemstones in the world. Follow David Artinian of Artinian Gems, as he searches for new sources of Tourmaline, Aquamarine, Morganite and Sapphires. Join him as he climbs down gem mine shafts and then bargains with the locals to bring home the finest of gemstone rough.

Looking at fine blue Sapphire in Northern Nigeria

Analyzing the Rough

Fine rough Tourmaline of this quality is very rare.

Fine Rough Tourmaline

As I prepared for my next gem hunt to Nigeria, excitement, determination and anxiety were all swirling in my mind like a tornado. What do I expect? I had heard the stories of Boko Haram and their unspeakable violence. I had heard of the kidnappings not to mention ethno-religious strife that had plagued the north for years and had cost tens of thousands of lives. Simultaneously, there was the exciting lure of so many of the worlds finest Tourmalines, Aquamarines and Sapphires that come from all over this mineral rich land. Also, I had made a good friend in the business who assured me that our trip would be 100% safe. He told me not to worry. In the end, after prayerful consideration, I embraced adventure and decided to plunge forward. We would be avoiding the infamous ‘red’ zones, but undoubtedly traveling into some sketchy orange ones. So we planned our itinerary carefully, I bought the ticket and applied for a visa. Applying for a Nigerian Visa is tricky. There is a one liner on the consulates website with vague instructions to send your application to a secondary company to have them process for you. Extra fees are involved. I’m so glad my wife Nong, caught that one. I saw later online, that some people had unwisely sending their application directly to the embassy, never to see their passport again! Hmmm, what am I in store for?

Looking at Tourmaline Rough along the side of the road.

Buying Gems Along the Road

Every Gem Hunt Starts With A Long Flight

I’m On My Way

As the plane’s wheels lifted off from the familiar comfort of the San Diego airport, I knew that come what may, it was showtime. So armed with my knowledge of gems, a rough itinerary and as much cash as we could scrape together it was now or never, sink or swim. (see part 2 for more)