THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE STONES
Madagascar has a well-developed tradition of gem mining, and the gems here are still mined by hand using traditional methods.
These methods respect the work of local workers and preserve the land after the mining activities have ceased. The sapphire deposit around the town of Ilakaka is probably the largest in the world.
Most sapphires here are found in former riverbeds, 40 to 50 metres below the ground. Groups of men work together, turning the soil with shovels to draw it up from the open pit and uncover the sapphire-rich deposit beneath.