I was recently in Mwatate in Taita Taveta County and got invited to the County’s first ever Gemstone Expo by Thamani Gems. The expo had been organized by the Tsavo Mineral Organization and the Taita Taveta County Government. This was an initiative taken to market the County’s gemstones as well as get buyers, sellers and investors together for opportunities to develop the gemstone industry. What fascinated me is the amount of raw gemstones that the expo had that are found in the county that I am sure many Kenyans do not know. There were Rubies, Red garnet, Emeralds, Moonstone, Tsavorite and Okenorite which are unique to Taita Taveta County and many other stones whose names I could not get- do not judge, I am not a gemologist or a geologist! Anyway with all this mineral wealth on display, it got me wondering why some of the sellers and in general folks in the county had not been reaping big on the gemstones. This I was told was because of the lack of standardization of gemstone quality and regulations to govern the industry. And as a result, most of the miners and sellers get swindled by middlemen and also lose out on getting fair prices for their gems driving some of them to even trade in the thriving gemstone black market. Another major hurdle most of the miners are facing is lack of better equipment for mining, assessing the quality of the gems as well as cutting and polishing the stones. This makes them have to sell most of the stones in raw form for less while they would be in a better position to get more money if the stones were cut and the carats and quality assessed and prices standardized. With all these excuses flowing around about why the gemstone mining industry in Taita Taveta County is sketchy, I hope the government will actually do something about it because this is a major resource that the country is losing out on and I am sure if Kenyans can get these amazing stones from home, they would not have to spend so much money on having to buy gemstones from abroad! Just to put into perspective the quality of these gemstones, Taita Taveta rubies are of the same quality as Burmese rubies so that should show you how major this industry is! Hopefully by the next gemstone expo in December this year, the gemstone industry situation in Taita Taveta County will be on the way to improvement!