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All About Gemstones

Geology, Gemstones and kanchanaburi Sapphire from Bo Phloi, Thailand

Unveiling the treasures of Bo Phloi, Thailand

Bo Phloi, a small town nestled in the Kanchanaburi Province of Thailand, is known for its natural beauty and cultural richness. But did you know it’s also a treasure trove of precious gems?

Yes, Bo Phloi’s fame extends far beyond its placid terrains – it’s home to one of the most vibrant gemstone mining industries known for its fine sapphires and rubies. So, come along let’s delve deeper into the geological wonderland of Bo Phloi.

Bo Phloi16,786 (2013)0.1km WNW
Phanom Thuan12,469 (2012)29.2km SE
Kanchanaburi63,699 (2015)35.8km S
Tha Muang26,746 (2012)42.6km SSE
Tha Maka52,907 (2012)54.4km SSE

The geology of preciousness: Understanding Bo Phloi formation

Before we marvel at the sparkling blue sapphires, deep-red rubies and gemstones, let’s peek into the geological chapters that brought these wonders into existence.

The area’s interesting geological history dates back to the Precambrian era. This ancient period paved the way for the formation of Thabsila gneiss, the oldest known metamorphic unit here.

The geological timeline of Bo Phloi is punctuated by a host of rocks ranging from Cambro-Ordovician U-Thong Marble, Ordovician Thung Song Group, to Silurian-Devonian Bo Phloi Formation and Quaternary deposits.

This diverse ensemble of geological structures, including the formation of palaeo-channel, has played a crucial role in shaping the gemstone deposits of Bo Phloi. A fun fact to remember is that all these processes extend over a staggering duration of billion years!

Geological Overview of Bo Phloi, Thailand

Delving into the Geographical Background

Not surprisingly, the geography of Bo Phloi, including the choowong area, has an important role in its geological story. Positioned on the western side of Thailand, Bo Phloi is part of the larger Kanchanaburi Province.

The Xayaburi Formation, a sedimentary succession, is dominant in the region and spans over an extensive surface area. This formation has its roots in the Late Paleozoic era and reflects an intriguing panorama of varied sedimentary processes. The region’s geography also underscores the presence of West Kanchanaburi and Thong Pha Phum belts, distinguished by their unique geological features.

The gemstone paystreak in Bo Phloi, particularly in the choowong area, is impacted greatly by this geographical arrangement, particularly in terms of its vertical distribution and location with regards to the rock basement.

Shaping the gems: Geological processes in Bo Phloi

Bo Phloi’s gemstones have a fascinating creation story to share, one that includes attrition, erosion and time, lots of it. The process begins with the erosion of primary rocks in the Upper Crust, carrying a wide range of substances, including crystals of potential gemstones. They then get transported and accumulated by rivers in their sediment load. The rivers play a generous role in the formation of gemstones; specifically, the paleo-river systems situated in the middle part of Bo Phloi Basin.

Floodplain and low terrace deposits, which fall under the field of sedimentology, are significant sites for these gemstones. Here, you’ll find them concentrated mostly within layers of gravel beds. Radiocarbon dating suggests that these sedimentology deposits were formed during the middle to late Pleistocene, a period stretching from 2.6 million to nearly 11,700 years ago.

On the whole, the formation of gemstones in Bo Phloi is a captivating harmony of geology, geography, and the natural elements. The result? A treasure trove of vibrant gemstones that sparkle with the brilliance of nature.

Gemstones from Bo Phloi, Thailand

Radiance beneath the Surface: The Spectrum of Bo Phloi Gemstones

Delve beneath Bo Phloi’s surface, and you’ll discover a mesmerizing array of gemstones, including the famous kanchanaburi sapphires.

While the region is notably famous for its blue sapphire, it’s a hub of diversity featuring gemstones of multiple colors, forms, and value.

For example, besides the renowned sapphire, Bo Phloi also boasts abundant high-quality black spinel. This gemstone is also known as “Black Gem of Kanchanaburi”, a rich, inky stone extensively used to craft intricate jewelry and carvings.

Here’s a snapshot of Bo Phloi’s gemstone spectrum:

  1. Blue Sapphire: Known for its stunning shades of blue, ranging from pastel to deep indigo.
  2. Black Spinel: Noted for its deep black color and crystal-clear sparkle. It’s a hit among jewelry makers and stone carvers.
  3. Ruby: Ruby is another gemstone protagonist of Bo Phloi with its mesmerizing hues of deep red.

Beyond these, Bo Phloi’s geological tapestry is also adorned by an array of other gemstones, each bearing its unique textures, charm, hues, and peculiarity.

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Beyond these, Bo Phloi’s geological tapestry is also adorned by an array of other gemstones, each bearing its unique textures, charm, hues, and peculiarity.

The Celebrated Sapphires: A Highlight of Bo Phloi

Whether it’s in size, color, or quality, the sapphires of Bo Phloi stand tall in a class of their own as stated in my website all about gemstones. Historically, these mesmerizing blue gemstones were principal contributors to the global sapphire market. What adds the charisma to these gems? It’s their deep, enticing blue color and their prodigious size range!

Prominent features of Bo Phloi Sapphires:

  1. Magnificent color: These sapphires are known for their captivating shades of blue.
  2. Size: Ranging from tiny pieces to large crystals, the sapphires come in an amazing array of sizes.
  3. Quality: These gemstones often exhibit excellent clarity and color consistency, making them ideal for high-value jewelry pieces.

Despite their visual allure, they do have a couple of downsides, asso.

  1. Colour zoning: Some mined sapphires show visible signs of colour zoning, which might affect their overall aesthetics.
  2. Inclusions: Certain sapphires may contain inclusions, tiny foreign particles trapped within the gemstone during its formation, which could impact their transparency.

So who are these sapphires perfect for? If you are an enthusiast of fine gemstones or a jewelry designer eyeing rare pieces, you would fall in love with these beautiful sapphires from Bo Phloi.

The Science behind the Splendor

The Glittering Genesis: Sapphire formation and properties in Bo Phloi

So how exactly are the sapphires of Bo Phloi formed? It’s a magnificent interplay of geological processes, chemistry, and time. As you delve deeper, you’ll find sapphires nestling quietly within the alluvial deposits.

Formed from weathered basalts and metamorphic rocks, these gemstones are shaped and polished by millions of years of natural processes.

One of the unique features of Bo Phloi’s sapphire is its Fe content. According to a study published in the Journal of Gemmology, these sapphires are enriched with iron, which contributes significantly to their dark color.

The presence of both divalent and trivalent iron states within these gemstones sculpts their specific spectral characteristics.

Key properties of Bo Phloi Sapphires are:

  1. Color: Deep blue to light blue, owing to Fe enrichment.
  2. Hardness: Sapphires rank 9 on the Mohs hardness scale, making them exceptionally durable.
  3. Luster: Sapphires exhibit excellent vitreous lustre, adding to their aesthetic appeal.
  4. Clarity: Generally, these sapphires have fewer inclusions thus providing better clarity and sparkle.

With its captivating hue, durability, and sparkle, sapphires from Bo Phloi’s sapphire gravels are truly one of nature’s greatest gifts.

Geochemistry and Origin of the Gems

The formation and characteristics of Bo Phloi’s gems draw a lot from geochemistry – the study of the Earth’s chemical composition and the changes it undergoes.

Typically, the gems found here originate from the basaltic host rocks prevalent in the region, specifically Cenozoic basalts. These are abundant with potential gem materials like sapphire, black spinel, pyroxene, and zircon.

The gems’ geochemical properties are influenced by the presence of alkaline basalt – rocks rich in sodium or potassium and silica.

Distinct trace elements like iron and titanium are the typical chromophores that lend gems their appealing colors. In particular, iron content in Bo Phloi’s sapphires influences their coloration and spectral features.

Here’s an interesting fact: The gemstones’ origin and their properties don’t just depend on the host rocks but also on the various geological processes they undergo over vast time scales.

This includes weathering, erosion, transportation, deposition, and so forth. Isn’t it fascinating how the slow dance of geology and geochemistry over millions of years brings such radiance to life?

The Economic Impact of Bo Phloi Gems

From Rocks to Riches: How gem industry powers Bo Phloi’s economy

The abundant trove of gemstones does more than just add a sparkle to Bo Phloi; it powers the economic engine of this small town.

The gems here aren’t just excavated and admired; they are meticulously processed, polished, and crafted into exquisite jewelry that is shipped around the world. This entire process generates income and jobs, acting as a significant economic pillar for the region.

Fundamental parts of these localities machinery are the local mines, where workers extract the precious stones. The Bo Phloi Gem and Jewelry Center, a major highlight of the area, showcases the end-to-end process, from mining to jewelry-making, generating considerable income.

By fuelling local businesses and fostering international trade, the gem industry of Bo Phloi benefits the economy in three key ways:

  1. Residential Employment: The local gem industry supports jobs across the value chain – right from miners, to gem sorters, polishers, and jewelers.
  2. Business development: The income generated from the gem industry spurs growth of local businesses, churning economic activity.
  3. Global Trade: Greasing the wheels of international trade, the high-quality gems of Bo Phloi are exported worldwide, earning valuable foreign exchange.

So, next time you admire a radiant blue gemstone from Bo Phloi, remember there’re more than just geological wonders hidden in it!

The International Market: Thailand’s gems on the global stage

Rightfully earning the name of “Gem of Asia”, Thailand has long been celebrated for its splendid gemstones on the worldwide stage. A significant contribution to this global recognition comes from the remarkable gemstone cache of Bo Phloi.

Having garnered worldwide recognition, the blue sapphires of Bo Phloi, in particular, hold a significant market value and demand. The enticing blue color, combined with their brilliant sparkle, ensures that these gems have a loving audience internationally.

Countries like Europe, the United States, and Australia are some of the prime importers of these Thai gems. The dazzling gem jewelry, whether embedded in necklaces, earrings, or royal crowns, finds a place in exclusive boutiques and prestigious jewelry stores worldwide, a testimony to their international appeal and value.

A closer look at Thai gems on the world stage reveals:

  1. Global demand: Thai gems, especially from Bo Phloi, enjoy a robust demand in international markets.
  2. Economic contribution: Gem export plays a significant role in Thailand’s economy, contributing substantially to its foreign exchange earnings.
  3. Recognition: Thai gems are cherished worldwide for their quality and radiance, strengthening the country’s global reputation as a premium gem supplier.

Today, Bo Phloi not only lends magical colors to the globe’s gem palette but also significantly amplifies Thailand’s economy and its international stature in the gemstone industry.


Valuing the wonders beneath the surface

Coming to the end of our geological journey, it’s clear that Bo Phloi offers more than mere surface beauty. Beneath its verdant landscape lies a bewitching stew of geological and mineralogical processes, deep-rooted time frames, and intricate geochemistry. These unseen forces collaborate to produce the spectacular array of gemstones that we value so dearly.

But let’s not forget the immense role these deep-rooted wonders play in our daily life – fuelling economies, inspiring designs, adorning our lives with a dash of sparkle, and providing precious minerals. As we value these precious gems, let’s also take a moment to appreciate the marvels of geology that turn ordinary rocks into extraordinary treasures.

Future trends and opportunities in the Gemstone arena

Gemstone industry, like other sectors, never remains static. Exciting future opportunities and trends are set to change the landscape. And yes, Bo Phloi stands to benefit greatly!

With tech advancements, AI and Machine Learning can revolutionize the geological exploration of gemstone deposits. Improved mining techniques can enable cost-effective excavation, and advanced gemstone grading systems can aid in ensuring better quality control.

Trends like ethical mining stress on creating a sustainable and responsible gem industry. And guess what? Bo Phloi’s gem industry is gradually stepping up towards this global trend. Bo Phloi Gem and Jewelry Center is promoting eco-friendly mining and manufacturing practices and locally-sourced gems, a move towards a sustainable future.

Future opportunities include continued investment in the local economy, improving the quality of gemstones, and sparkling global visibility. Bo Phloi is all set to ride on these positive trends, ready to shine brighter in the Future of Gemstones!

And remember, next time you behold a glittering sapphire in your hand, spare a moment to marvel at the amazing journey it’s on — from the depths of Bo Phloi’s earth to the bejeweled world stage.

I hope you enjoyed this article, with love,

Edwin van Vliet

Picture of Edwin van Vliet

Edwin van Vliet

Edwin van Vliet is a seasoned life coach with an unwavering passion for the transformative potential of crystals and gemstones in healing. At 43 years old, and with his 16 years of experience, Edwin's journey to becoming a life coach was marked by his own personal healing experiences. Through extensive therapy and the supportive energy of crystals, he not only discovered his true potential but also found a deep passion for guiding others on their paths to self-discovery.

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