2018 has been such an incredible year, I don’t know where to start writing a year in review. I owe my heartfelt thanks to a lot of people around the world, who have helped to make the books such a brilliant success. Without them, or my Publisher, none of this would have been possible. There are now four books available in the Gemstone Detective series – Sri Lanka, Thailand, Australia and Worldwide. USA, India and Myanmar will follow in 2019, all being well.
From my ever growing bucket list, I visited Myanmar (Burma) for the first time as well as Kashmir in Northern India. I have wanted to visit Myanmar and Kashmir for almost thirty years! My grandparents always spoke highly of their exotic travel adventures. Even though a couple of people had doubts about safety due to the political situation in these two countries right now, I decided to go anyway…and I can tell you I’ve never felt safer!
Here’s a brief account of my year in review: it started with a trip to Australia with my husband, Steven. That was our annual holiday together and my brother lives there too, so it was a good excuse to visit! We visited all the famous tourist attractions like the Sydney Opera House, the Bridge Climb and the famous Rocks Market. Then we drove to Queensland. Amongst our many trip highlights, I celebrated a birthday with a rather special day out, visiting the black opal mines in Lightning Ridge. We both learned a lot about opal mining on that trip, thanks to Franka and Borko of Outback Opal Tours.
In June, I flew to Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). The people were extremely welcoming and helpful. For research, I travelled to Yangon and Mandalay. To my surprise, I discovered that Jade is the predominant gemstone of Myanmar, not just ruby. My only regret is that Mogok was closed to tourists so a second trip is a must. I would like to publish ‘Buying Gemstones & Jewellery in Myanmar’ in early 2020, if not 2019. In the meantime, I can only encourage you to add Myanmar to your list of ‘must see’ places. It is a beautiful country and I absolutely loved it.
In July I returned without my husband to the Outback of Australia to experience the Opal Show Circuit. Over five weeks, I drove 4,443 kms around the Outback visiting four opal shows – Winton, Yowah, Lightening Ridge and The Gold Coast. I met a lot of great people and driving by myself around the Outback dodging kangaroos was a surreal experience I will never forget. ‘Buying Gemstones & Jewellery in Australia’ will be published on 22 January 2019.
My last trip of 2018 took me to colourful and spicy India. I visited Jaipur (for coloured gemstones), Hyderabad (for Golconda Diamonds), Goa (because it’s a popular tourist destination, so a magnet for rip-off artists) and Kashmir (hoping to find Kashmir sapphires).
During this trip, I also took the opportunity to return to Sri Lanka, hoping to meet with the National Gem & Jewellery Authority – but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. I did, however, manage to catch up with many contacts in the gem trade who helped me research Sri Lanka.This book was successfully published and launched in October 2018.
To summarise my year in review, it’s been a whirlwind year of travel, gemstones and book writing! Words can not express my gratitude for the friends I have made and the help I have been given.
I seriously cannot wait for 2019 to arrive – USA and Africa are next in line for the Gemstone Detective treatment. You can follow me on Instagram and Facebook if you would like to track my adventures!
Happy New Year everyone! Thanks again for your support and interest in the Gemstone Detective books. I look forward to catching up with you next year.