Queensland Sapphire deposit was discovered in 1875 by Mr.
Archibald John Richardson the assistant Government Surveyor.
Mr Richardson found red zircons that he took to be rubies
and he showed little interest in the accompanying sapphires
at that time. In 1881 a Mr. Blair commenced mining the
sapphire deposit on behalf of Mr. Richardson.
The following are some
interesting excerpts from the 'Central Queensland
Sapphire Fields Historical Diary' compiled and written by Terri Baker & Pat
The Early Days
1920 to 1965
1880 to 1915
1882 Freehold mineral selection No 3022 80 acres
purchased for £120
- 1887 Anakie
- 1893 Sapphires
valued at £9,000 were produced
- 1892 Robert Logan
Jack Government Geologist reported a ton and a half of
- 1897 At the
Queensland Mining Court International Exhibit exhibit 365
was 'Uncut Sapphires, Green Sapphires (Oriental Emerald),
and Yellow Sapphires (Oriental Topaz), from area No:-50,
Retreat Ck Anakie
- 1900 The Mining
Wardens report noted sapphire production at 150lb valued
at £900. population 34 miners and 15 women and children.
- 1902 B Dunstan's
Geologicial Report Published in the Queensland Mining
Journal. He wrote "Let it be known that the field is a
large one, that the extent of the sapphire wash is second
to none in the world, and that a constant supply of stones
could be maintained."
- 1908 The
estimated value of the years yield of sapphires
- 1912 June 'Mr
Buker gem buyer ,is visiting the field. Mr Buker belongs
to Idar, Germany, where most of the gem buyers associated
with this field come from...'
- 1912 The
Assistant Government Geologist Mr Lionel C. Ball B.E.
stated ' there was
- 1915 The war has
hit hard the value og gems mined has dropped to less than
1920 to 1965
- 1920 The Paris
company , Messrs Bazanger and Co., had two buyers on the
- 1922 It was
estimated that there was 2000 residents on the fields.
- 1930s The
depression hits many leave the fields
- 1934 Only three
men where actively mining at Sapphire
- 1946 Several
large gems found this year, a 225carat golden yellow at
Big Bessie, a 211ct yellow at the Willows, a 105 ct
yellow at Glen Alva and a 326.55 ct blue at the Willows
- 1950 Only about
12 miners left on the fields
- 1953 A quantity
of sapphire was sent to Germany and 21 men are now engaged
- 1960 The
Gemfields start to attract tourists and gem collectors. An
increase in the price of sapphire has sparked a renew
interest in mining.
- 1964 Television
stories and newspaper reports raise the profile of the
gemfields as a tourist destination.
- 1965 Interest in
mining is at it highest for many years.
- 1965 First known
use of a bull dozer in mining on the fields
- 1965 a 2½ ounce
green Sapphire was found by schoolboy
- 1966 There are
now 75 permanent miners on the fields
- 1967 Mr John Huie
a gem buyer from Bangkok visits the Gemfields
- 1967 Increased
demand has seen the price for top grade blues rise to $800
- 1967 Over 1000
tourists are reported to have visited the Gemfields over
the Easter Weekend
- 1968 Almost 150
square miles of sapphire bearing country was set aside by
the Queensland government for the sole use of small
miners, prospectors and gem collectors.
- 1970 the birth
of Machinery mining on the Gemfields
- The early days of
machinery saw much controversy and many heated arguments
between the small miners, the machinery miners, tourism
groups and the State Government. The end result being a
raft of controls over the areas that could be mined with
heavy machinery. Most of the richest sapphire bearing
ground can still only be mined by small scale hand miners.
The machinery miners have opened up vast area of sapphire
bearing ground the would not have been viable under any
other method of mining.
- The boom of the early
1970s ended with a bust in the late 70's that lead to many
of the machinery miners leaving the industry.
- Since then Tourism has
grown considerable but a core of machinery miners as well
as a number of hand miners remain and produce a
significant quantity of sapphire. Economic necessity has
lead to many of these operators value adding to the
product buy keeping and cutting there best material
themselves instead of selling it as rough sapphire.
- The Central Queensland
miners have become leaner and more efficient operators and
many have start to play a part in the marketing of the
genuine sapphire -
made by nature
Resource on the Australian Sapphire Industry