Words: Marisa Cutillas, Photography: Kevin Horn
Words: Marisa Cutillas, Photography: Kevin Horn

Gemstones have played a key role in many important events throughout human history – engagements, coronations, and battles. Their beauty – best viewed beneath a continuous spectrum – has enthralled celebrities, world leaders, investors, and those with an eye for colour, fire, and light. Marbella-born company, MJM Gems, brings the finest quality gems from Tanzania, Kenya, Brazil, and other far-off lands to our shores.

If the deep blue of Tanzanite or the playful green of Tsavorite speak to your heart, know that you have a limited time to make one your own. Some gemstones have a finite mining period left and once the supply is exhausted, their price will rise vertiginously. MJM supplies buyers with flawless stones of the highest official standards, tones, and saturations. Sold as loose pieces or within a customised setting, they make an excellent investment and can be set within stunning designs that match the buyer’s sense of style.

A Triumvirate With Talent

MJM (Miguel, John, and Martin) comprises a team with a combined experience of more than 100 years in the world of gems and jewellery. Miguel is a fully qualified gemologist and distinguished jewellery designer whose incredible creations include the stunning ‘Star of the Sea’ necklace featured in this article and on the back cover of this edition. The gem is a 44.75-carat Tanzanite. Its owner will be able to proudly display a truly unique and contemporary piece that is designed and hand-crafted in Marbella; one that will be impossible to make once this precious stone can no longer be mined. Martin, meanwhile, is an entrepreneur who runs various successful businesses in Spain and the UK.
John is a modern-day Indiana Jones in search of treasures – to be precise, gemstones. His is a life of adventure and he regularly travels to Tanzania, Kenya, Brazil, Burma, Sri Lanka, South Africa, and more countries in search of the finest quality Diamonds and gemstones of all colours. He recounts dramatic experiences and life stories – including the death of his best friend Campbell Bridges – a renowned Scottish geologist and gemstone miner who officially discovered the verdant gemstone called Tsavorite. Bridges was assassinated by a group of around 20 people as a result of a mining dispute. His son, Bruce, is now heir to the largest collection of Tsavorites in the world – one of supreme quality and incalculable value. What makes Tsavorite so special is that, unlike its twin sister, the Emerald, it is free of inclusions and bears a rich green hue that is reminiscent of nature’s greatest treasures.

“These gems have life in them: their colours say what words fail to” George Eliot

The History Of Tsavorite

The history of Tsavorite is best recounted in the words of Campbell Bridges himself. The gemologist recalls that he discovered this deep green-hued stone in Zimbabwe in 1961, while he was working for the UK Atomic Energy Authority. One day, while exploring the countryside, “an old rogue buffalo charged out of the bush at me. I jumped down into the gully. The buffalo followed me in a menacing manner along the edge of the ravine for a while, then gave up and went off into the bush. I continued upward, inspecting the rock exposures in the bottom and sides of the gully. Where it neared the top of the hill, I found an outcrop that contained small bright green crystals. This was my first encounter with green Garnet.” The stone was renamed ‘Tsavorite’ by Bridges and Henry B. Platt, President of Tiffany & Co. in 1973. Tsavo is an enormous wilderness area that has been divided into two national parks. It is one of the world’s largest wildlife preserves.

Bridges’ second discovery of Tsavorite was equally shrouded in danger. It occurred in a small valley in northern Tanzania (over 100 km southwest of the Kilimanjaro) that a large rhinoceros had made his home. Bridges and his team began digging a pit in search of Tsavorites and the following morning, they found the rhino’s tracks “firmly implanted in the soil on the edge of the pit.” The miners took great care to watch out for the rhino, whom they named ‘The Mining Inspector’. The rhino had plenty to be protective about. This deposit, said Bridges, “yielded some of the largest Tsavorites ever found, among which is one beauty just under 35 carats.” This enormous stone was found long after Bridges had lost the mine due to nationalisation by the Tanzanian government.
Bridges has many more beautiful recollections – including that of a leopard in Kenya that used to consume its prey on his treehouse bed and drink water from a “Tsavorite-studded birdbath at the bottom of the tree.”

Tantalising Tanzanite

Tanzanite, which ranges in colour between deep blue and violet, also has fascinating origins. Discovered by Maasai herders in the Merelani Hills near Arusha, Tanzania, it was confused with Sapphire gems by its original miner (a prospector named Manuel d’Souza). Upon noticing that this stone was often practically indistinguishable from Sapphires, Tiffany & Co. became its main distributor, renaming it from ‘blue zoisite’ to ‘Tanzanite’. Around two million carats of Tanzanite were mined before the Tanzanian government nationalised the mines in 1971.

Today, Tanzanite is considered one of the rarest gemstones in the world. Geology studies show that the supply will be entirely depleted within the next 15 – 20 years, making it an excellent investment. The President of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu Hassan, has taken various measures to protect this national treasure, recently prohibiting the exportation of raw or semi-processed Tanzanite. The stone must now be mined, cut, and polished in Tanzania itself.

In September 2021, she advocated against the immediate offloading of Tanzanite, urging dealers to control the supply of the mineral so as to boost its demand and value in international markets. President Hassan is also shooting a travel documentary called Royal Tour, stating, “I am going to record the film showing the world where Tanzanite is mined and the refinery process. This will tell the world that Tanzania is the home of Tanzanite.”

From Africa to Marbella
MJM Gems sells a host of gemstones, including Tsavorite, Tanzanite, Morganite, and of course, Diamonds. Contact the company to view the extensive range of stones and ready-made jewellery or arrange to create a bespoke design just for you. A wide range of stone sizes is available, ranging from half a carat to over 100 carats.