In Malawi, the mining industry began when farmers found Rhodolite Garnets among their corn furrows after rainstorms. Still today, many believe that gems fall from the sky with rain. Of all our time in Malawi, our favorite experiences were visiting the mining villages deep in the bush where white skin, “sweets,” and gemology knowledge are rare commodities.
Farming has been the single most important industry in Malawi for centuries. Today, the farming industry backs the mining industry. In between the busy farming seasons, farmers search for gems, digging to find gems covered from previous rains. Miners use farming tools for digging and use the seasonal benefits to drive both occupations.
Whether in formal training sessions, under a tree seeking some shade from the relentless African sun, or at the buying table with dealers, Malawians are hungry for knowledge and craving education. We found a wealth of Garnet, Tourmaline, Aquamarine, Apatite, and Quartz in Malawi and their Sapphire and Ruby looks extremely promising for the future.
Because the mining industry in Malawi is still young, not many identify as miners. Those who do are resilient in facing failure and hopeful for the future of their gem industry. Malawians have a deep-seated belief that there is a wealth of gems to be found within their borders. We hope so!