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       The Mano River, which forms part of the boundary between Sierra Leone and Guinea, is the locale for alluvial deposits of lilac sapphires to red rubies. They were found by local artisanal miners above the  diamondiferous strata they were interested in.  These nuisance stones were thought to be of no particular value and until recently were discarded.  We are currently involved in efforts to develop a market for them, both as collectible specimens and as gemstone (cab and facetable) rough.  Regional geology and water wear indicate that lode sources may be more than 100 kilometers upstream, possibly in Liberia.  
     These crystals can be a fine, highly translucent purplish lilac; making them ideal for carvings and cabochons.  Though some appear asteriated, I have not seen any produce really good stars.  A few small facet grade gem crystals have been found.  Here are four specimens from the collection.  These came from the Guinea side.

      Two individuals, Emmedy Harris and Joseph James, have separately gone to the area and are attempting to educate the miners about the value of these stones, and we are assisting with market development.  In a short while (by August ot September, 2008), it appears we will be offering a selection for sale.  Most of the profits from sales will go back to the locality for schools, medical supplies, boreholes, and other necessities.  Look here for further information, photos. etc. from Joseph James in the near future.  
 Some outstanding bipyramidal crystals have come out of Sierra Leone (left image).    This older specimen was obtained from the Bill Larson collection.  The ones on the right probably do star rather nicely!   More details to follow ....    

     On the left is a strange "black ruby" corundum river cobble found near Kono (Sedafu), Sierra Leone.   Note how it seems to "sparkle" due to small domains of lustrous (chatoyant?) ruby which peer through the darker outer layer.   It is the only specimen of this genre I have seen.

     Blue and white corundums, some weighing several pounds, as well as particolored ones, are occasionally found  in the same general area (right).