Day 4: Steve Searches for Gemstones in Tanzania

by Steve Moriarty March 29, 2018

Buying Gemstones in Tanzania

Another day has passed here in Tanzania. If you haven't kept up with the previous day, check out Day 3 here. If you haven't been keeping up with the previous blog posts, Steve Moriarty (owner of Moriarty's Gem Art and this website) and Matt Bigelow (professional photographer and family friend) are in the middle of their trip to Tanzania in search of Tanzanite and other gemstones. Day 4 is here and they are out and about for another round of buying Tanzanite and gemstones.


After a good breakfast, we waited for Jamal to arrive. He was a friend of Steve's and our driver for the day. Now they say a friend, but they have actually never met in person, so it was strange looking for someone in this town and not knowing what they look like. The good thing is that there are not many white people in town, so it would be easier for Jamal to find them. After he easily found them, they hopped in his car and headed off to his office.


When Steve looks for gemstones, he has to use an LED Flashlight much of the time. This allows him to see imperfections in the stone, as the light reflects off the cracks and imperfections, it makes them much easier to see from the naked eye (when natural light is an issue). The problem is that this isn't a true representation of the stone though, so you still want natural light when viewing gemstones. Also, due to the frequent power outages in Tanzania, it's good to have one as a backup if the power does go out. In this case, it's good he had it.

Once the power came back on, Steve was able to use his other tools to view the gemstones. The tool below is a much more accurate lighting tool and gives a much better representation of what the stone actually looks like.


Picking out good stones in only part of the battle. Because most of the stones you are looking at are in rough form, if you have the knowledge of gem cutting, you know what stones work for what cuts. This way you can pick out stones based on knowing how they will look after you cut them. Finding a stone with no imperfections is just not enough. Think about it, you could find an amazing stone at an amazing price, but if it is a awkward shape, you might not be able to cut it. Then the gemstone is awesome useless.

Once Steve finds the stones he wants, he measures them to make sure the dimensions of the stones meet the dimensions he needs to cut the stone when he returns back to the United States.


During this buying trip, the dealer had a ton of Spessartite Garnet. If you haven't seen this gemstone before, it's quite beautiful once it's cut correctly. Steve has a nice selection here. As you can see in the picture below, the dealer had a ton of Spessartite Garnet! This is good and bad. With so many, you have to go through each stone individually to find ones with few imperfections and that can be cut well. Steve did this...and it took a great deal of time, but he was able to find a few pieces that would work out perfectly.

During this long process, Matt even got involved in learning how to pick out a quality gemstone. Here he is viewing the Spessartite Garnet. And here is Matt happy for himself after his rewarding


  • Rhodolite Garnet — 16.04 Grams
  • Zircon — 7.41 Grams
  • Spessartite Garnet — 23.74 Grams
  • Merilani Mint Garnet — 1.46 Grams
  • Star Sapphire Yellow  — 1.84 Grams

No Tanzanite this time, but the trip is just beginning and I am sure there will be many more chances for them to purchase Tanzanite.

Steve Moriarty
Steve Moriarty

Steve Moriarty has been in the jewelry industry for over 30 years. Steve is not only a jeweler, but a gem cutter and designer. He has traveled the world in search of gemstone rough and has owned a retail jewelry store for 20 years located in Crown Point, Indiana.

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