Gemstone Mining

There is no large-scale industrial mining of gems in Cambodia and few full-time miners. Most people involved in looking for gemstones fit it around other work – typically farm work – and mostly do it without licenses. As with artisanal mining, miners are often very poor. Transactions are usually informal. Many stones are sold to buyers from Thailand or Vietnam. There are no reliable statistics on the value or quantity of gemstones mined in Cambodia each year.

A large range of gemstones is found in Cambodia. The most valuable are rubies and sapphires, but peridot, aquamarine, amethyst, citrine, topaz, agate, garnet, zircon, and other stones are also recovered here. There are no diamonds or emeralds found in Cambodia. There was heavy exploitation of Pailin rubies and sapphires in the 1970s, and few large stones are found today.

The main areas for gemstone prospecting/mining are Pailin (rubies, sapphires, and garnets), Ratanak Kiri (zircons and amethyst) Takeo (topaz, quartz, aquamarine), Kampong Thom (amethyst), Preah Vihear (sapphire) and Mondulkiri (peridot). A large number of gemstones for sale in markets throughout Cambodia are imported, mostly from Thailand, India, Myanmar, and African countries.