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Discovering the Unexpected: My Field Gemmology Experience

A Chance Encounter that Changed My Path

It was a warm evening in July 2016 when I attended a London GIA alumni event. There, I met Vincent Pardieu, the charismatic Head of Field Gemmology at GIA in Bangkok, Thailand. His talk on collecting rubies in Mozambique gripped my attention from the very beginning—ruby is, after all, my favourite gemstone.


Before Vincent’s presentation ended, I knew my future with gemstones wouldn’t be confined to a laboratory. Instead, I saw myself wandering the rugged terrain of gem-rich landscapes, driven by a passion to discover and explore.


Bold Beginnings: A Leap of Faith

After the talk, as drinks were being served and networking began, I mustered up the courage to approach Vincent. I introduced myself and expressed my dream of travelling with him. His response was frank. Vincent explained that he only travels with trusted individuals, emphasising the importance of reliability and stamina—he needed companions who could handle the demands of intense 16-hour treks.


Undeterred, I pursued lunches and conversations with Vincent, both in Bangkok and London. My dedication paid off when, after five meetings, he invited me to photograph his upcoming expedition in Thailand.


The Unexpected Return: A Twist of Fate

As fate would have it, I found myself back at the Khao Ploy Waen sapphire mines—the very place I had visited at the end of 2016. Following seven months of intense classroom studies in gemmology, I had rewarded myself with a field gemmology trip to Chanthaburi. The alignment of circumstances felt almost magical.


In April 2017, I flew to Bangkok, ready for the next adventure. However, upon arrival, I discovered our trip was delayed. Vincent was embroiled in media chaos due to a sapphire rush in northeast Madagascar months earlier. The uncertainty was palpable, but my excitement kept me patient.


Navigating Field Gemmology: Challenges and Revelations

Three anxious days later, we finally received the green light. Our minibus journey to Chanthaburi was filled with heated discussions about the sapphire rush. The field trip was nothing short of fascinating. Being part of Vincent’s team was a dream come true.


One memorable incident that has ingrained itself in my memory involved an impromptu lesson from Vincent. He handed me a gemstone on the street and asked, “What is it?” At first glance, it looked like a fine star ruby. Vincent told me to look closer. I had no clue. Vincent, urged me to look more closely at the gem. Despite his guidance, I still found myself puzzled. He then pointed out that I was standing on the pavement and needed to watch my footing, which left me quite startled, especially as he had placed the gemstone in my hand without any warning. I sensed a hint of annoyance in Vincent's voice when I didn’t immediately recognize what I was holding - I had never heard of lead-glass-filled rubies before. This was my first encounter with them, thanks to Vincent - a revelation that underscored Vincent’s cardinal rule: always expect the unexpected.


Vincent Pardieu at GIA | www.gemstonedetective.com

Vincent Pardieu speaking at the GIA alumni event on 1st August, 2016


Field Gemmology in Thailand | www.gemstonedetective.com

Vincent Pardeiu talking with the young gemmologists about the importance of research

Field Gemmology expedition 2016 | www.gemstonedetective.com

Field Gemmology – counting the mines across Khao Ploy Waen, Thailand 2016.

Field Gemmology with Vincent Pardieu | www.gemstonedetective.com

Field Gemmology – learning about culture around Chanthaburi town in Thailand 2016

Khuk Khi Kai Chicken Pooh Prison | www.gemstonedetective.com

Talking about history, inside Khuk Khi Kai Chicken Pooh Prison in Thailand

Young gemmologists learning field gemmology | www.gemstonedetective.com

Talking about Field Gemmology at Khao Ploy Waen mine with Vincent Pardieu

Field Gemmology Boat trip with drone camera | www.gemstonedetective.com

Boat trip to Lion Island – setting up the drone camera

Enjoying Thai coconuts | www.gemstonedetective.com

Enjoying the Thai hospitality – shade and refreshing coconuts!

Vincent Pardiue with Justin K Prim talking field gemmology | www.gemstonedetective.com

Making a video at the mine in Chanthaburi – Vincent Pardieu talking with Justin K Prim

Field Gemmology expedition 2016 | www.gemstonedetective.com

End of another day learning about Field Gemmology with Vincent Pardieu, Thailand 2016

Lessons Learned in Field Gemmology

Vincent’s unexpected test on the street taught me to continually refine my skills and remain vigilant. This experience, and the many others I encountered, have fundamentally shaped my approach to field gemmology.


The Unexpected in Field Gemmology Experience

Older and wiser, I now embark on every trip with a readiness to face the unexpected. This wisdom has not only enriched my gemmology adventures but also my life as a whole.


The Journey Continues

My time with Vincent Pardieu was an exhilarating chapter in my life’s travelogue. Field gemmology is more than a profession—it’s an ever-evolving journey of discovery and learning. I’m thrilled to share that Vincent published a video of our field gemmology trip, and I'm pleased to bring you along through these stories.



Kim Rix GG GIA

Gemstone Detective

Be sure. Be smart. Buy with confidence

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