Field Trips at Emmaville

August 29, 2006

If you have not already planned your trip to Emmaville for this weekend’s Gem Show, it is not too late to arrange it.  There are some great field trips planned for the weekend so here are a few details to whet your appetite:

  • Saturday Morning (9:00am, 2nd September) – trip to the silver mine to look for silver and galena.
  • Saturday Afternoon (1:00pm, 2nd September) – trip to the emerald mine
  • Sunday (all day, 3rd September) – trip to the flourite mine to look for fluorite and Jap twin crystals.  This is an all day trip so please take your morning tea, lunch and plenty of water.
  • Monday (4th September) – trip to look for topaz, copper and tourmaline.

Cost for these trips is $10 for the full day and $5 for half day – very reasonable cost for access to some great fossicking areas with expert local guides to assist you.  As mentioned in our previous post, there will be some traders set up at the Emmaville Caravan Park over the weekend so even if you dont manage to find much yourself, there will be plenty of opportunity to pick up some bargains.

galena.JPGflourite.JPG

Images courtesy of Mindat.org – Mineralogy Database
Left = Galena, Right = Flourite

Cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire – hope to see you at Emmaville on the weekend.

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Online Forums

August 25, 2006

Quite some time ago, we posted a short article about some useful online forums that may be of interest to people interested in gems and jewellery.  Recently, the well-known author and gemmologist, Richard Wise, posted an article on his blog with a different take on this issue:

Rating the Gem/Jewelry Forums

Some very interesting information and opinions in this article about how and why these forums operate.  Ultimately, he comes up with the same answer as us, albeit far more eloquently: the most independant and interesting forum around these days is Gemology Online.  This is a fantastic forum for anyone interested in gems and it has a very welcoming and friendly attitude – we highly recommend this one.  Bookmark it now!

cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire


Going to AgQuip

August 20, 2006

Just a quick message to let you know that we will be attending AgQuip at Gunnedah this year as an exhibitor.  We have attended AgQuip as a visitor a number of times – as a farmer, this usually involved “kicking tyres” on tractors and checking out new agricultural products.  This year, Aussie Sapphire will be attending to show off some of our fine jewellery and gems.

AgQuip is said to be one of the largest agricultural field days in Australia with over 100,000 visitors passing through the gates over the 3 days.  With over 2500 companies and organisations exhibiting, there is absolutely something for everyone to see and you will struggle to fit it all in just one day.

We know we have a number of regular customers in NSW and Queensland so if you are planning on going to AgQuip, please call in to our stall and say Gday.  We will be located in the Nick Nack Gallery at site GH3/4.

Dont miss it – AgQuip at Gunneday August 22-24th, 2006

Please note that both of us will be away from our office from Wednesday morning (23/8/06) to late Thursday evening so we will not be able to attend to emails during that time.  We normally try to keep up with emails when we are away but will not have internet access those two days so please keep this in mind when trying to contact us.

We can be contacted by mobile phone on 0427 336742 (Andrew) or 0427 468826 (Leah) so please feel free to call if required.

cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire


Ebay Store Decision

August 20, 2006

Some may have read our previous post regarding the new Ebay fees being imposed on Store owners as from tomorrow.  We said in that post that we would be deciding the future of our Ebay Store before this date.  It has been difficult as the new fee structure make it very difficult to keep operating as we have been doing but we did not want to let our Ebay customers down.

Therefore, we have decided to keep our Ebay Store open. 

We will have a look at how things go over the next month and see if we can make it work.

Unfortunately, we have been forced to reduce the number of items stocked so there will less variety in size and shape for sapphire, black spinel, blank jewellery settings, and other items.  The good news is that we are increasing the stock levels on our main website so please check both sites when looking for something specific.  If some of your “watched items” have disappeared, we suggest you have a look at our main website.

We have also been forced to raise prices on Ebay to account for the increased fees – the doubling of final value fees or commission paid to Ebay was the real killer here.  We apologise for this but had no choice.  Again, the good news is that in most cases, you can benefit from cheaper prices on our main website where we can pass our savings back to you.

There will be some transition over the next month or so while we settle on the right balance of inventory between both sites so bear with us while we work it out.  Rest assured, that we are committed to providing great products at fantastic prices at all times.  We encourage you to buy at either or both of our online shops – we suggest that better value might be found at our main website but both options have some great advantages.

Thank you from Aussie Sapphire


New Jewellery

August 17, 2006

Have just unpacked our latest treasure box of jewellery and beads from our manufacturer.  There are some spectacular pieces in this lot and we hope to get some photos up soon for everyone to see.  Included are some innovative designs using polished slabs of sapphire which I think will be of great interest. 

 Also some beautiful rings using sapphires specially picked for great colour.

We have just listed some new items on the Gold Jewellery section of our website so please take a look.

cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire


Aussie Sapphire selling to the world

August 16, 2006

One of the really great things about selling on the internet is the chance to interact with people from all over the world.  We really enjoy this aspect of the business.  While most of our overseas customers come from the USA, we have made sales into many other countries.  However, the fact that our website is written in English may mean that some people may not easily discover us.

For those people, here are a few tools to help.  Please keep in mind that these are machine translations but hopefully this will help if English is not your native language.  Unfortunately, we only speak English so please use this in your emails. 

Regardez l’emplacement australien de saphir en français – vente en ligne de magasin rugueuse et coupez le saphir du notre propres mien, or et bijoux argentés et beaucoup plus de produits pour le fervent de pierre gemme.

Sehen Sie den australischen Saphiraufstellungsort auf Deutsch – das on-line-Geschäft Verkaufen rauh an und schneiden Sie Saphir von unserer eigenen Grube, Gold und silbernen Schmucksachen und viel mehr Produkte für den Edelsteinenthusiasten.

Opinión el sitio australiano del zafiro en español – venta en línea de la tienda áspera y corte el zafiro de nuestra propia mina, oro y joyería de plata y muchos más productos para el entusiasta de la piedra preciosa.

Osservi il luogo australiano dello zaffiro in italiano – vendere in linea del negozio di massima e tagli lo zaffiro dalla nostri propri miniera, oro e monili d’argento e molti altri prodotti per l’entusiasta del gemstone.

Please note that while Australian dollars is the default currency displayed on our website, you may select from US dollars, Canadian dollars and Euros in the Currency Box in the top right hand corner.  If you would like us to add other currencies, please let us know.  Prices in currencies other than AUD are estimates only and your credit card will be charged in AU dollars but we hope this helps when browsing our catalogues.

cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire


Opal Mining at Lightning Ridge

August 9, 2006

Part Two of the Lightning Ridge trip (remember to click on any of the photos to see a larger version):

plant.jpgMining techniques are almost as diverse as the people that do it – from full hand work similar to when the mining first started in the area to some very expensive underground gear along with large open cuts. This photo shows a large treatment plant.

open_cut.jpgTraditionally, opals have been mined underground and this is still common in the area. However, open cut mining has also been used. In this photograph, you can see where the open cut has exposed some small mine shafts in the centre-right of the image (visible through the wire fence).

We arranged a visit below ground with an opal mining acquaintance from my home town of Glen Innes. This miner who was kind enough to spare his time on us was up there with good underground gear, although he explained there is much better on the field. His mine was about 20km west of the Ridge – crossing a huge black soil flat I thought we would never find a mine. The flat is called The Lake and although it is farmed, our guides Chris and Bea told us that locals have water skied on the vast open area in wet times. Suddenly the more familiar camps came into view and I was glad I had a guide as, unlike at the Ridge, the car door signs were nowhere to be seen. Just what seemed like hundreds of tracks all leading somewhere no doubt very important to those that use them.

Once we got to the camp, the typical friendly, laidback nature was evident again. After several weeks mining, these hard working folks just wanted to talk – all interesting stuff so we listened and learnt. The camp was very clean and well built with two large caravans joined by a steel shed between them. After a cuppa, it was boots on and get to work which was a couple of miles away.

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These areas have been worked for a long time and as we pulled up at the mine we were shown the basic layout of the underground workings below us. Down below at about 30 feet, there was an area of around 50 x 30 metres (see photo above right) that had been completely removed and propped, with another deeper level below (somewhat unusual as most is just narrow shafts) and tunnels that went all over the place, some linking to each other and some not. It’s quite easy to get lost in some of these networks and Chris told of some areas where you can walk underground for around 2 miles without turning around.

divining.jpgDivining the opal – we do this all the time with our sapphire and it’s got a strong following out there too. Same technique with some using rusty fencing wire like me and others using bought ones (made by a “secret method”). This photo shows David having a go with the divining wires after having been asked by a local to check his claim for him. Chris had painted marks up on top showing where he thinks a run goes and coupled with small pilot test holes to check for the location and more importantly check that the roof area is good and strong for safety.

digging1.jpgdigging2.jpgdigging.jpg

Most of the mining is done underground with hydraulic diggers and vacuum pumps or suckers to lift the rock and dirt up to ground level into the trucks. Here Chris is seen scraping the rocks towards the suction pipe – any pieces that wont fit up the 10″ pipe need to be broken and much of the product dragged by hand into the suction. Although this type of mining is mechanised, it still involves very hard work.

truck.jpgagitators.jpgThe rock is loaded into a waiting truck and then taken for processing in an agitator – cement mixing trucks are used for this job. Here is a line up of agitators (this photo shows only half the mixers on this site). Chris aims for one truck load per day which is usually around 4-5hrs digging.

The truck load of rock and dirt are fed up a conveyor (more hand work as although they use tippers, the larger rocks block the trapdoors). This is then agitated for 8 hours on average to break up lumps and wear them away while feeding water into it all the time to remove the silt.  Artesian water is used as the water supply, with an open bath on site for the workers, although there is another hidden bath most use (this is hot and dirty work so an on-site bathtub is handy). On completion of the washing, the ore that remains is fed into a tray where any opal or possible opal bearing pieces are simply hand picked.

The price for Opal is all over the place with small attractive pieces ranging from around $20/ct to tens of thousands per carat for that one special stone. It’s the kind of town that lives on dreams and once someone hears that you are involved with mining (and perhaps a possible buyer), all sorts of people come up to you and produce bags of opal for you to consider.

I recommend anyone interested in a completely different way of life to visit Lightning Ridge one day.  One important local tourist site is the natural Bore Baths where hot water straight from the Great Artesian Basin can soak away your aches and pains – mineral spa baths with hot water at 40 degrees Celcius free of charge anytime.

bottles.jpgcottage.jpgThere are also two houses made from glass bottles and one we didn’t see made from tin cans.  Lightning Ridge can get pretty hot in the summer so drinking all the beer in those bottles was probably not a difficult task for a thirsty miner. The photo on the right is a typical old miners cottage.

Hope you enjoyed this short story and photos about Lightning Ridge – we certainly enjoyed our trip out there.  Back to work now – have just listed some great new sapphire rough and will now spend a little time looking through the opal rough I managed to get my hands on while out west.

cheers for now from Andrew (Aussie Sapphire)