Thursday, September 3, 2009

African gems

Bridges Family - Campbell Bridges, pictured in 2006, lived in a tree house near his mine to avoid the local wildlife, from scorpions to lions

It all began, Campbell Bridges liked to say, the day a charging cape buffalo forced him to flee into a ravine. That was where he discovered a cache of small green garnets that turned out to be the making of his career.

Mr. Bridges went on to become the leading miner of tsavorite, the gemstone he first sighted in 1961 in Zimbabwe. A geologist and an African adventurer known for living in a tree house and setting a cobra to scare off intruders at his mine, Mr. Bridges was a legendary figure in the world of gemology.

Tsavorite is named for the Tsavo national parks.

To avoid the scorpions, army ants and other hazardous fauna including lions, Mr. Bridges took to living in tree houses, 25 feet off the ground. "They are safe and cool," he told a jewelry trade magazine in 2007. "And the views are spectacular."

blue-purple tanzanite.

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